Fighting for The Soul of the Republican Party: Kansas (Part 2)
While moderate Republicans voted in droves for Paul Morrison to replace Kline as AG, -- Morrison became a Democrat in the hopes of beating Kline -- precinct leaders in the county chose Kline to finish the final two years of Morrison's term as prosecutor.
The Post understands the significance of this event:
Kline's reincarnation as Johnson County prosecutor reveals the depth of the continuing Republican split in Kansas and suggests challenges faced by the GOP nationwide as it tries to recover from its Nov. 7 losses and build toward 2008.
The vote took place at the Westside Family Church in Lenexa with precinct leaders backing Kline over a Morrison aide by a vote of 316 to 291. At that point, the Post reports, "Republicans showed just how divided they are."
"The moment Phill Kline got the nomination, half the room got up and walked out," said Scott Schwab, the county GOP chairman. "It wasn't so much yelling or cussing. They threw up their arms and said, 'What do we do now?' "
Given the defeats in Kansas of religious conservatives such as Kline, U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun (R) and some members of the State Board of Education, one Kansas political analyst expected the GOP "would be ready to mend fences and move forward." But that has not yet happened.
Kansas Democrats are joining forces with moderate Republicans to defeat theocratic-leaning incumbents. In the midterm elections, Democrat Nancy Boyda stunned five-term incumbent Ryun, while moderate Republicans Morrison and his friend Mark Parkinson, a former chairman of the Kansas GOP, changed parties and easily won statewide office.
Even though Morrison outpolled Kline 65 percent to 35 percent in the traditionally Republican county, Kline continues to use his last days in office to fight Kansas abortion clinics. He filed charges against George Tiller, accusing the Wichita doctor of performing illegal late-term abortions. But on December 27, a judge refused to reinstate criminal charges against Dr. Tiller.
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