With the entry of state Sen. Jim Barnett, the race for the big first just got a bit more interesting. Barnett is a known entity in Kansas politics as he was the GOP nominee for governor in 2006, loosing quite badly to Sebelius.
His '06 run was one of the more remarkable political makeovers in the state, going from a staunch "moderate" to a conservative in just one short voting cycle. And then back again for his Senate re-election in '08 and now back to "conservative" for a Congressional run in '10. John Kerry has nothing on this guy.
Barnett's first political snafu was in 2004 when he couldn't decide if he was for gay marriage or not. It turns out that when he thinks he might not get re-elected, he's against gay marriage. Nice to know he can at least be pressured into doing the right thing.
In '06 he runs as a conservative with state Sen. Susan Wagle only to reject her as Senate President two years later. Not only did he not vote for her, but according to Wichita Liberty he actively encouraged others to vote for Morris et company. So the Senate leadership team that got the state into its current financial mess is the leadership we should be looking at to help us get out? I don't think so. Welcome back liberal Barnett.
Now it would seem he's back to being conservative, talking about fiscal responsibility, blah blah blah. That's going to be hard to sell to voters with a taxpayer friendliness rating of less than 50% from the former Kansas Taxpayers Network. Why buy Barnett when you can get the real thing with Huelskamp?
Taking a look at the last governor's race, Barnett lost 46 of the 69 counties in the first district in the Republican primary. Canfield and Jennison carried a majority of the first district, and both have already endorsed Tim Huelskamp. It will be interesting to see how Barnett attempts to reshape his image in the big first to try and correct his '06 primary loss. A blog post at townhall.com is an interesting read.
Barnett adds a lot of questions to the already crowded race. What does this mean for "moderates" like Tracey Mann and Tim Barker? Is Barnett the new Morris/Vratil pick? Will Barnett use his considerable personal wealth to try and buy the race?
For me, the most interesting is which Barnett will be running? "Conservative" Jim or "moderate" Barnett?