Come January, Kansas may be in a very unique situation for the next two years. With the defeat of Nancy Boyda by State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, we are guaranteed that two of six statewide offices (Governor, Lt. Gov., AG, Insurance Commissioner, Sec. of State, and Treasurer) will be filled with non-elected appointments.
And if Gov. Sebelius jumps ship for greener Washington pastures (which she’s sure to do if given the opportunity, because let’s face it, Kansas is just a stepping stone to her), three of the six seats will be held by unelected Democrats.
What an astounding scenario.
It’s rather mind boggling that half of our statewide offices can be filled with unelected politicos, without even so much as a Senate hearing or vote, and virtually no recourse for voters if they don’t approve of the appointments.
When Paul Morrison was caught in his sex scandal, Democrat Stephen Six was appointed to fill his term, which had three years left. That appointment highlighted a significant problem in Kansas…the unlimited power of the Governor to appoint anyone (qualified or not) to fill a vacant office, whether it’s for one month or four years.
Immediately after Morrison’s resignation, many thought there would be a competitive AG race in the ’08 general election, but because of our current laws, we’ll now have an un-elected partisan serving as our chief law enforcement officer until 2010.
Furthermore, Sebelius was free to pick whomever she wanted, regardless of party, regardless of qualifications, and regardless of political ties to unsavory political figures. Six’s appointment highlighted the need for Senate confirmation hearings.
Unfortunately, if Sebelius is given the opportunity to jump the sinking Kansas budget ship for Washington big spending, Lt. Gov. Parkinson will have the opportunity to appoint anyone he sees fit to the Lt. Governor’s office.
So then what happens if he resigns? That’s not outside the realm of possibility…did anyone see the Morrison melt down coming? A Parkinson appointment would create a situation where just one resignation could allow an unelected, unconfirmed political appointment to run the state, without so much as a glance from our elected Senators, and with no recourse for voters if they don’t approve.
Our forefathers fought against taxation without representation. Why do we now accept this as normal and regard it with nothing more than curious apathy?
It’s time the House and Senate seriously look at how statewide offices are filled when left vacant before a term expires. With virtual year round campaigning in our future (Can you say Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt???) there will undoubtedly be more vacancies to fill in the future. It’s time we ensure those vacancies are filled with the people’s choice and not an unelected political appointment.