TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- Current Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is among more than 100 Republicans who have endorsed the presumed Democratic nominee for governor.
The Paul Davis-Jill Docking campaign held a news conference Tuesday to announce the formation of what they call "Republicans for Kansas Values."
The list of participating Republicans was led by Praeger, the only current statewide officeholder on the 104-name list. Praeger, who is not running for re-election, said she thought a long time about making the endorsement.
"To remain silent means I like the way the state is going," she said. "This (endorsement) feels like the right thing to do."
Praeger said she was ultimately swayed by the Brownback administration's refusal to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care reform law. Praeger says the lack of action continues to put Kansans at risk for medical bankruptcy, and also puts their health at risk as they delay getting needed health care because they lack coverage.
The list of Republicans crossing party lines also includes former Kansas Senate presidents Dick Bond, Steve Morris and Bud Burke, plus three former state House speakers, former Congresswoman Jan Meyers and a host of former House, Senate and State Board of Education members. The complete list is attached.
Kansas Republican Party officials responded with a tweet noting that Kansas has more than 700,000 Republicans compared to The Davis 104 .
You can watch the entire news conference above.
The state GOP also offered additional observations on their Twitter Account.
Former State Board of Education member Carol (Rupe) Linnens also took part in the news conference. She says cuts to education funding were the key issue that swayed her support away from Brownback. Rupe says school boards across the state are struggling to figure out how they will fund their districts, saying many have been forced to increase local property taxes. She said Kansans may expect to see larger class sizes and other changes as a result.
But Brownback's campaign communication director, John Milburn, disputed the assertion in a statement he released following the news conference, saying the administration actually has increased funding to schools:
"Governor Brownback is focused on leading Kansas by growing the economy, investing in education for future generations, and preserving the bedrock values of hard work, faith and family. Under Governor Brownback's leadership Kansas has created 53,400 new private sector jobs, Kansas kids have 676 more certified teachers in the classroom, and recently provided $84 million in property tax relief for hard working families."
For his part, Davis said he is campaigning on the approach of bipartisanship.
"It's not really about Republicans vs. Democrats. It's about doing the right thing for Kansas," Davis said. "The values that unite us as Kansans are much bigger than the partisanship and experiment of Sam Brownback."
Brownback faces a challenge in the GOP primary from Jennifer Winn. Davis is the lone Democrat. Libertarian Keen Umbehr also is in the race.
Posted by Greg Palmer and Melissa Brunner