Election update, 11:15 p.m.
What a great night for Johnson County and the future of Kansas.
It took a lot of courage for moderate Republicans in Johnson County to take on incumbent GOP legislators this summer.
Those incumbents often were supported by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansans for Life and backers of Gov. Sam Brownback.
Yet many of the challengers did a great job getting the word out about their campaigns.
They talked about the need to properly fund schools — even as Brownback and the ultraconservative Legislature came too close to shutting them down this summer.
The challengers discussed the need to pull back from Brownback’s economic disasters — as revenues continued to come in more slowly than predicted and employment gains did not materialize.
But mostly the best-qualified challengers — read more about them below — put together good ground campaigns, knocked on a lot of doors and overcame negative mailings from their opponents.
In the end, they convinced the voters to support them and to oust the incumbents.
Election update, 10:10 p.m.
What a great day for moderate Republicans in Johnson County.
On Tuesday they defeated a number of ultraconservative GOP incumbents who have supported Gov. Sam Brownback’s agenda in Topeka.
Among the high-profile winners:
In Senate races, John Skubal beat Jeff Melcher, despite Melcher’s deceptive ads about how local school districts had endorsed him. They had not.
And Dinah Sykes defeated Greg Smith.
In House races, Patty Markley ousted incumbent Craig McPherson, while Tom Cox beat Brett Hildabrand.
Jan Kessinger took on and defeated incumbent Rob Bruchman, while Joy Koesten posted a deserved victory over Jerry Lunn.
Some incumbents did hang on to their seats in Johnson County.
They included Keith Esau, Erin Davis, Randy Powell, Donald Roberts and Ron Ryckman.
Election update, 9:45 p.m.
In Missouri, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Eric Greitens “shoot ‘em up good” campaign tactics seems to have worked with voters.
Greitens, a political neophyte, has spent lots of money on television ads showing him shooting big guns at inanimate objects.
By 9:45, with more than 60 percent of the vote counted, Greitens was pulling in an impressive 34 percent of the poll, with three other candidates trailing him.
The Associated Press called the race for Greitens.
John Brunner, 25 percent
Peter Kinder, 21 percent
Catherine Hanaway, 19 percent
Election update, 7:45 p.m.
The ground is shaking in Johnson County, where moderate Republican candidates are leading incumbent supporters of Gov. Sam Brownback in high-profile races.
But not in all of them, to be clear, so stay tuned for later results.
The Johnson County Election Office has released the results of advanced voting, either in person or through mailed-in ballots.
Here is the news (with Kansas City Star-endorsed candidates in boldfaced type)
11th District: Challenger John Skubal up big over incumbent Jeff Melcher
21st District: Challenger Dinah Sykes up big over incumbent Greg Smith
8th District: Challenger Patty Markley over incumbent Craig McPherson
14th District: Challenger Leesa Gabel (barely) over incumbent Keith Esau
15th District: Incumbent Erin Davis over challenger Kim Palcic and challenger Bo Dostal
17th District: Challenger Tom Cox over incumbent Brett Hildabrand
20th District: Challenger Jan Kessinger over incumbent Rob Bruchman
21st District: Challenger Dorothy Hughes over challenger Neil Patrick Melton
27th District: Challenger Sean Tarwater over challenger Timothy James Harmon
28th District: Challenger Joy Koesten over incumbent Jerry Lunn
30th District: Challenger: Incumbent Randy Powell over James Dingwerth over incumbent Randy Powell
38th District: Incumbent Willie Dove over Mitra Templin and challenger Nathan Lucas
39th District: Challenger: Shelee Brim over incumbent Charles Macheers and challenger Owen Donohoe
43rd District: Incumbent Bill Sutton over challenger Donald Roberts
78th District: Incumbent Ron Ryckman over challenger Allen Clayton
Election update, 7 p.m.
The most crucial Kansas House and Senate races since, well, 2012 are over. Polls closed in the state at 7 p.m.
In Johnson County, will moderate Republicans beat the dozen or so ultraconservative GOP House incumbents in competitive races there? Will the two Senate GOP challengers defeat the incumbents?
Johnson County Election Office officials expect to release results of advance voting by 7:45 p.m. or so. Final results are supposed to be in between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
If some kind of sweep materializes, the moderates should be able to combine with Democrats in the House to stop much more of Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic agenda in the 2017 legislative session and afterward.
Basically, that could mean the governor won’t be able to keep the “march to zero” going when it comes to income taxes.
The reduction of income tax rates, started by Brownback and the Legislature in 2012, has drained the state of an estimated $650 million a year. That includes more than $200 million annually unfairly reaped by 330,000 LLCs that don’t have to pay taxes.
Sure, people are “keeping more money in their pockets.” But the price paid has been steep, with numerous budget reductions and diversions of more than $1 billion in road maintenance funds required to keep the tax cuts in place.
Johnson County was the battleground for the bids by moderate forces to recoup from their devastating losses in 2012.
That’s when Brownback led a successful takeover by ultraconservatives of a number of House and Senate seats in the county.
Four years ago, Brownback said he needed assistance in getting his agenda into place.
Unfortunately, since then that has included no expansion of Medicaid services for low-income residents; ultraconservatives were only too happy to oblige.
Brownback and the Legislature also have sliced into budgets for universities and roads, borrowed heavily to keep state pensions funded, and watched as employment has remained stagnant for much of Brownback’s second term that began in January 2015.
The governor has been punished in public opinion polls that show him to be extremely unpopular with Kansans.
But will those same voters dump some or many of the Republican incumbent lawmakers who have made Brownback’s agenda possible?
Let’s hope so.
We will get the answer to that question as Tuesday night rolls on.