Recently-elected Republican precinct committeeman, Stephen Cook, had eight political signs in his front-yard in Shawnee on Sunday, including SIX signs for Democratic candidates:
- Barack Obama for President (D)
- Jim Slattery for U.S. Senate (D)
- Dennis Moore for U.S. House (D)
- Pete Roman for Kansas Senate (D)
- Cindy Neighbor for Kansas House (D)
- Rick Guinn for Johnson County County District Attorney (D)
In addition to the six Democratic candidate signs, Cook voiced his opinion with two other signs, which left-leaning voters favor:
- Elect Candidates Who Will Fund our Public Schools
- No! on Question #1: Keep Politics Out of Our Courts!
Why would a Republican have so many Democratic Party candidate and left-leaning issue signs in his yard? I knocked on Cook’s front door to find out.
His wife, Kathy Cook, answered the door and immediately announced, “Those are all my signs. I’m a Democrat.” Kathy Cook is Executive Director of Kansas Families for Public Education and a local Democratic party activist.
I asked Republican Precinct Committeeman Stephen Cook: “What Republican principles attract you to the Republican Party?” He didn’t seem to understand the question. He said he had been a life-long Republican.
“What responsibilities do you have as Precinct Committeeman? ” Cook replied that no one had told him he had any.
“Why did you run for Republican Precinct Committeeman?” Initially, Cook had no answer but later admitted his dislike for the way Phill Kline was appointed JoCo DA was a big interest in being a precinct committeeman.
I asked Stephen and Kathy Cook whether a political party affiliation was more like a color (“red” vs “blue”) or a statement about one’s philosophy of a core set of values, usually outlined in a party’s platform.
Stephen said he would only vote for “moderate” Republicans, preferring the “Steve Cloud” Republicans. Both said they would refuse to vote for any “Kris Kobach” Republicans.
Kathy said as a life-long Democrat she changed party registration to vote in Republican primaries when certain candidates were on the ballot. She claimed that practice was common in Johnson County. I challenged that “common” was a fact. I speculated I could produce statistics showing party switching is actually not all that common, and mostly done only by political activists. Perhaps we’re both right: Party switching may be “common” for many Democratic party activists.
Kathy Cook obviously had little respect for social conservatives and labeled many of them “extremists.” I claimed such labels were unfair and detracted from public discussion of issues.
Would Stephen Cook put any Republican signs in his yard this year? Yes, of course, he said. He said Mary Ca Ralstin, “moderate” Republican candidate for State Board of Education, would be placing a ninth political sign in his yard soon. [Ralstin has been the subject of several Meadowlark articles, including "Republican for Moore" Mary Ca Ralstin runs for State Board of Ed but supported teacher busted with marijuana? and Republicans for Moore -- the last five election cycles. (Dennis Moore is a Democrat.)]
Kathy Cook showed little respect for my Meadowlark blog and she complained about how biased my writings were. My reply was I always corrected any factual errors, and that my writings were no more right-leaning than the Kansas City Star’s writings were left-leaning. She did not buy the argument as if I had just offended the Star‘s writers.
In the end, I suggested we should agree to disagree on most issues.
The Kansas Republican Party in 2007 introduced a “Party Loyalty” article in its constitution:
ARTICLE XIII: Party Loyalty
(A) The Kansas Republican Party is dedicated to the promotion of Republican policies, candidates and principles. The members of its governing bodies defined in this Constitution (Article IV, V, VI) are charged with promoting these goals. Therefore, any individual with voting rights on any Party committee defined in this Constitution, who by any documented public action donates, contributes, or endorses a candidate other than the Republican nominee in a contested, partisan campaign for public office in the state of Kansas, shall forfeit their voting rights and membership on the committee(s) on which they serve. This shall not, in any way, restrict rights conferred on elected officials or precinct committeemen/women as defined in Kansas statute.
Republican precinct committeeman Stephen Cook shows little support for the Republican Party and Republican candidates based on the signs in his front yard.
Will a Republican “loyalty committee” buy that all the political signs in his yard belong to his wife, Kathy? Should Stephen Cook step down as Republican committeeman and let a “loyal” Republican have that spot?
Or, should Johnson County Republicans teach Johnson County Democrats a lesson by running for and winning Democratic precinct positions in 2010?
The Cooks should consider complying with a Shawnee City rule by moving their Pete Roman and Cindy Neighbor signs to the other side of the sidewalk. Shawnee City municipal rules require:
Political Signs – Municipal Code 5.64
The City of Shawnee regulates the placement and size of political signs. … On streets with a sidewalk the sign must be placed behind the sidewalk.