Beating Brownback Would Redeem 2014

After reading Patrick Caldwell’s very thorough explanation of why Gov. Sam Brownback’s in danger of losing in November, I’m more convinced than ever that whether or not Republicans are kept from taking control of the Senate, it would be an important national accomplishment for progressives if Brownback goes down to defeat.

Why? If the Republican governor of a very Republican state loses for undertaking a conservative political and policy revolution, complete with a purge of party “moderates” and reactionary legislation on just about every front imaginable, it may remind Republicans everywhere that there are limits to a meta-strategy of moving to the right, polarizing the electorate, and then winning on money and pure dumb luck. As a huge bonus, among the injured in a Brownback loss would be the Koch Brothers, right there in their Wichita lair.

As Caldwell notes, the Republican Governors Association, loaded this year with dark money, is riding to Brownback’s rescue, and he’s gotten very lucky with 16-year-old news of his Democratic opponent being discovered in the midst of a lap dance by police on the scene for unrelated reasons. But in the end, Brownback has very publicly made his state a conservative “experiment station” and sought to stamp out any dissent in his party, all in the pursuit of a sort of intellectual rogue’s gallery of bad ideas, from supply-side economics to the harshest attacks in the country on reproductive rights. He not only deserve to lose, but his regime needs to be remembered with fear and trembling by Republicans everywhere.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.