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Tuesday, October 25, 2005



There was another factor that plays into Paul Morrison's decision to switch parties and challenge attorney general Phill Kline. It's geography.

Being from Johnson County can be a signficant political liability in the rest of the state, especially in the ultra-republican "Big First" congressional district, one of the most heavily republican congressional districts in the country. There is a tendency in much of that district, which takes in the western half of the state along with central Kansas north of Wichita and most of the Flint Hills region toward Emporia, to distrust Johnson County.

The big first tends to be somewhat more pragmatic in it's conservatism than other areas of the state, and moderates can do ok in that area so as long as they can play themselves as at least a little to the right of center.

The moderate centers of power in the district are around Salina, Emporia, Hays, and to some extent the Dodge City-Garden City area. Conservative strongholds are generally rural areas south of US 50 (Pratt excluded), north of Salina, and in far northwest Kansas (the latter being the home base of state board of education member Connie Morris). Other areas can go either way. It's not uncommon, for example, for an area to have a conservative state rep and a moderate state senator, or vice versa.

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