Republican, Democratic women gather to meet Docking
SALINA (MCT) — For much of Kansas history, Republicans and Democrats managed to get along with each other -- and Republicans also got along with Republicans.
"Previous governors got along within their party and could reach across the aisle," said Jill Docking, in Salina on Tuesday night for a gathering of about 70 women at Salina Community Theatre.
Docking, a Democrat, is running for lieutenant governor with Rep. Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat who is House minority leader.
"The depth of cooperation changed under (Gov. Sam) Brownback," Docking told the crowd.
She quickly went through a litany of problems she sees with what Brownback has called the "red-state experiment" but which she and Davis have taken to calling the "red-ink experiment," for the falling tax revenues Brownback's tax cuts have produced.
Among those problems are cuts to K-12 education spending, cuts to higher-education spending, two downgrades to the state's credit rating, job growth lagging behind neighboring states, and borrowing money from funds dedicated to highways and other infrastructure to avoid even larger spending cuts.
"I think the thing that's been most destructive to the soul of Kansas is the Washington divisiveness Brownback has brought to Kansas," Docking said.
But that divisiveness has led to a "new depth of cooperation" between Republicans and Democrats who want to see a change.
Docking said she hadn't run for public office in 18 years -- since Brownback defeated her in a race for U.S. Senate in 1996 -- but she was drawn back in by the effects of Brownback's policies.
Playing well with others
Tuesday's gathering was initiated by Salina Democrat Vicki Price, who said Docking had called her recently asking for her support in the November election.
After assuring Docking she had her support, Price said, she started talking about how the politicians in Topeka have forgotten a lesson that's supposed to be taught in preschool: How to play well with others.
After a few minutes, Price said, Docking asked her whether she knew any Republicans. Docking said it was a rhetorical question.
From that conversation, Price decided to organize a bipartisan group to meet with Docking. She invited fellow Democrat Jane McMillen to help. They called Republicans Marcy Roth and Rosie Brungardt, whose spouses -- former Kansas Rep. Charlie Roth and former Kansas Sen. Pete Brungardt -- were among about 100 Republicans who endorsed the Davis/Docking ticket last week in Topeka.
A bipartisan effort
Marcy Roth drew a distinction between Tuesday's event in Salina and the event last week in Topeka.
The Topeka event, she said, was about Republicans endorsing the Democratic candidates, while the Salina event was "a bipartisan effort -- an opportunity to meet Jill Docking."
Docking said she's relying on women to turn out for her and Davis.
"Women will turn this election," she said. "Particularly moderated Republican women."
Near the end of her talk, Docking asked people to sign up to have signs put in their yards, saying that people could choose between "Davis/Docking" signs or "Republicans for Davis/Docking."
Comparisons to Topeka rally
Contacted early Tuesday afternoon, Saline County Republican Party Chairman Clarke Sanders said he thought organizers were "gun-shy about using the word endorsement after that debacle last week."
He was referring to the gathering of Republicans in Topeka, announcing support for Davis and Docking; after the list of more than 100 Republicans was released, former U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers, whose name was on the list, said she was not endorsing and would not endorse a Democrat.
Docking also made a joke about her supporters being from nursing homes, referring to Rep. J.R. Claeys last week tweeting that the Davis campaign "really raided the nursing home" for the Republican endorsements.
"These are folks who are more comfortable in the Democratic Party," Claeys said Tuesday, talking about Republicans backing Davis and Docking. "That's why they were defeated in the polls. ... They're a bunch of humorless has-beens who don't like being outed as Democrats."
(c)2014 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.)