Butler County Times Gazette
  • Kent Bush: Umbehr's candidacy big advantage for Davis

  • Umbehr’s website boasts a political platform that reads very much like that of any Tea Party candidate
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  • Paul Davis will need a little help this November if he is going to unseat an incumbent Republican governor in Kansas.
    So far, Gov. Sam Brownback is doing his part by serving the Koch Empire so well that local, state and national media are pointing out the failed economic and educational experiments he has been trying to support in the Sunflower State.
    With every report of state revenues dropping and school boards around the state meeting to make cuts to their budgets, the Brownback train loses steam. Add to that, the midnight deal to remove state-wide teacher due process rights and Brownback has mobilized a big group of well-informed active voters in a campaign against him.
    But even those ill-timed moves wouldn’t have allowed Davis to claim Brownback is in a zugzwang position. After all, Brownback has shown the ability to twist numbers to his liking and you know he will have as much money as he desires thanks to the Sons of Wichita.
    But the recent announcement of a well-funded non-extremist Libertarian candidate joining the race might be just the move to put Brownback in checkmate.
    Keen Umbehr is a former business owner turned attorney who will file as a Libertarian candidate for governor.
    The problem for Brownback may come when some of his far right followers to whom he has been kowtowing in the past few months may find Umbehr more to their liking despite his attempts to placate them. Umbehr’s website boasts a political platform that reads very much like that of any Tea Party candidate.
    He boasts a pro-gun, pro-budget cutting platform and wants to one-up  Brownback’s tax cutting plan and seek a zero percent income tax rate in the state.
    He even wants to institute the Fair Tax plan.
    This isn’t just an anti-war, pro-marijuana legalization stereotypical Libertarian. He won’t win, but any vote Umbehr receives comes straight out of Brownback’s ballot box.
    That is a big advantage for Davis.
    Umbehr could become Kansas’ Ross Perot.
    In 1992, Bill Clinton didn’t beat Republican Incumbent George H.W. Bush. Ross Perot did.
    Perot used his quirky debate style and charts and graphs to siphon away almost 20 percent of the vote.
    Most of those Perot voters left the GOP and Clinton slid right into the White House. That could never have happened without Perot.
    It remains to be seen how much of an impact a third party candidate will have in Kansas. But the potential is there for Umbehr to cause the Brownback camp a lot of trouble by outflanking him to the right.
    Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com

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