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Dole for Brownback

A scant two months ago, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole expressed concern the national Republican Party had swung so far to the right that he would be unelectable.

The GOP's standard-bearer in the 1996 presidential race, Dole said other party icons such as Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon wouldn't make it either. Not with bipartisanship being a dirty word and conservatives pushing moderates out office.

The Russell native went as far to say: "I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says 'closed for repairs' until New Year's Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas."

We thought the party might listen. Bob Dole, after all, is a heavyweight in the pantheon of pachyderm patriarchs.

After reading this past week's news, however, we need to adjust expectations. Dole did a 180 right here in the Sunflower State and signed on with Gov. Sam Brownback's 2014 re-election campaign. Dole will serve as an honorary national co-chair along with Mary Jean Eisenhower, a granddaughter of an even larger Kansas icon.

The co-chairs praised the governor as "a good man with the right ideas and experience" in a letter released by Brownback's office.

We find it difficult to reconcile the national scene being so bad it should be "closed for repairs" while Brownback, who takes the conservative push to even further extremes, is praised.

The Kansas governor doesn't even have to feign interest in bipartisanship. There simply aren't enough Democrats in the Statehouse to worry about, let alone include them in budget discussions. As for moderate Republicans, Brownback personally helped drive them out of office during the last election cycle by backing conservatives.

So many long-standing, respected Republicans were targeted by the governor that a new political party was formed, the Moderate Party of Kansas. Its founding members currently are attempting to gather enough signatures statewide for official recognition so candidates can run in next year's elections, including for governor.

Democrats are scurrying to find their candidate as well. They hope to have a presumed nominee in place by Labor Day.

Both Democrats and Moderates will have their work cut out for them, given the governor's existing war chest, fundraising prowess, and the ever-present Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Koch brothers.

Still, it wouldn't be unprecedented for a non-Republican to be elected to Cedar Crest. The Populist Party has had two winning candidates. Democrats have fielded 10 1/2 -- it's tough to count Mark Parkinson fully, as he was a Republican up until almost the very day he assumed the office and never stood for a gubernatorial election.

Republicans historically have dominated the office. Brownback is the 33rd in a long line.

Yet Brownback represents the very problem Dole was complaining about two months ago. The governor is a dogmatic conservative with no room for compromise.

We only can conclude Bob Dole is the one who's been compromised, as Kansas residents will be if they follow their icon's lead.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net