Martin Hawver
Guest columnist
By now most of us have enough of those mailings from supporters or opponents of candidates for the Legislature that if we just had a little tape, we could make placemats for a dinner party.
Actually, it’s pretty nice for some group, whether it’s teachers or unions or the Kansas Chamber of Commerce or Americans For Prosperity, to tell us what they think of candidates.
But by now, we’ve seen enough of those mailers that it’s probably time to re-read them to figure out whether they are enough to move your vote.
One of the key topics for conservative mailings to potential voters is just where a member of the Legislature was on the issue of the Affordable Care Act—which most conservative groups refer to as “Obamacare.”
And, surprisingly after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that  upheld most of that expansive new effort to get every American insured, is that lawmakers in Kansas, yep, in Topeka, either somehow supported it or didn’t oppose it strongly enough. As if they had anything to do with it at all.
It’s a little like blaming the Kansas Legislature for Daylight Saving Time.
But, how does a Kansas legislator put his/her mark on a federal law that he/she couldn’t change anyway?
One way, according to some of those mailings, was an effort to give Kansans a chance to vote on whether they like that federal law that they couldn’t change anyway. That wouldn’t have changed anything, but it might have been cathartic. Is that moving anyone?
And, there are liberal groups that, by careful parsing of nearly any bill, can decide that a candidate voted against schools or care for the sick and poor.
That’s the easy one. If a legislator voted for the budget—which cut funding to a bunch of agencies—then he/she is against whatever laudable program that was part of the 200-plus page bill that the mailing refers to.
Or, if one voted for the budget, which increased spending on K-12 education, then, he/she didn’t vote to spend as much as the pamphleteers wanted spent on education. Or if legislators voted against the budget, then they didn’t vote for that little increase in spending on schools, and are therefore anti-education.
See something here? It’s pretty easy to take one vote and explain just the parts of it that make a snappy mailer, and brand a candidate as anti-something or other.
Make you wonder why those mailings keep piling up on your kitchen counter? Because there are voters out there who just may vote based on whatever lands in the mailbox.
But while mailings have become cleverer, there’s one simple rule that you can follow to determine whether the special interest group is for or against the candidate: It’s the picture.
Flattering picture? That group is for the candidate. Unflattering picture? Against the candidate.
That makes it simple, doesn’t it?
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this statewide political news service, visit the website at LINK.