Tim Hodge, Democrat, defeated incumbent Marc Rhodes, Republican, in the November 8 election for the 72nd district of the Kansas House of Representatives. It was a close election. Hodge got 4772 votes (51.1%) and Rhodes got 4552 votes (48.8%).
Kansas remains a Red state. Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton in Kansas — 57% to 36%. Although Democrats made modest gains in the Kansas legislature, the Republicans will still have a strong veto-proof majority in both houses. Only 42 of 125 House members (33.6%), and 9 of the 40 member Senate (22.5%), are Democrats.
How was Hodge able to win? He ran an aggressive campaign–knocking on doors, attending political meetings, walking in parades, and working social media. He used the state Democratic franking status to mail out a dozen or more full-color leaflets that identified Rhoades with Governor Brownback’s unpopular programs. At the election eve Democrat meeting Hodge said the most important issues were Brownback’s 2012 elimination of taxes for businessmen, the unprecedented increases in the sales tax, and the raiding of funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Hodge spent more money than Rhoades did for the campaign. According to official reports, in the period from July 22 to October 27, Hodge raised $26,661 and Rhoades raised $15,217.
Three Mennonites will serve in the new legislature. Don Schroeder from Hesston was reelected in the 70th district without opposition. Steve Becker, from First Mennonite Church in Buhler, was reelected with 82% of the vote over token Democrat opposition. Becker was encouraged by the failure of conservative Republicans to recall members of the Kansas Supreme Court. As a retired district court judge, Becker has strongly opposed Governor Brownback’s attempt to get control over the appointment of new Supreme Court Judges.
It now seems certain that a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans will pass a major revision of Brownback’s budget-busting tax policies. Perhaps the governor will veto a reversal of his program. But we can be sure that the Mennonite members of the legislature, now one Democrat and two Republicans, will vote against Brownback’s discredited tax policies.