HBA Political Forecast Breakfast: Insights into the State Races

The HBA’s political action committee, HBA-PAC, hosted a Political Forecast Breakfast on Oct. 12 at Milburn Country Club.  Two prominent and well respected political journalists – Martin Hawver and Dave Helling — focused primarily on state level politics. 

Hawver, editor and publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report, reported that the election of moderate Republicans and Democrats over more conservative Republicans – a trend that occurred during the primary elections – is likely to continue in November’s election.  However, neither chamber will likely have enough moderates elected to reach veto-override levels, allowing Governor Brownback to maintain a significant level of influence over state actions.  Hawver commented that the Governor remains an unpopular figure in the state legislature and that many candidates have actively avoided campaigning with him.

Hawver pointed out that the most significant action in the 2017 Kansas Legislature will revolve around the issues of budget, taxes, and school funding issues.  If the current State Supreme Court Justices are retained and the court orders more money spent on K-12 education, the legislature will likely have to turn to income taxes or property taxes to help cover costs.  Finally, Hawver commented that those involved in the home building industry should pay special attention to the LLCs’ current tax exempt status – the legislature may be looking to add those back on the state income tax rolls.

Dave Helling, three-time Emmy nominated journalist and multimedia reporter for the Kansas City Star, began by summarizing the most interesting races on the Missouri ballot.  The U.S. Senate election between incumbent Senator Roy Blunt and current Secretary of State Jason Kander has been surprisingly close – recent polls put them one or two points apart.  Helling still predicts Blunt to be the favorite, but acknowledges that Kander has run a “masterful campaign,” between the popular gun ad and calling for a generational change in Congress.

Helling also noted that the gubernatorial race between Attorney General Chris Koster and political newcomer Eric Greitens is now the most expensive governor’s race in the country.  It seems clear that whoever is elected to this office will determine whether or not Missouri will become a Right to Work state.  The other statewide races are mostly seen as toss-ups.

As far as the Missouri state legislature, almost half of the Senate seats and two thirds of the House seats are uncontested; meaning the winning candidate can already be determined.  Therefore, it is safe to say the Republicans will maintain their majority by a wide margin.