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Lawrence businessman writes breakup letter to GOP, hopes to form new 'centrist' party in Kansas

Lawrence businessman Scott Morgan has had a difficult relationship with the modern Kansas Republican Party for many years. A self-described moderate, he has never fit in well with Gov. Sam Brownback's conservative wing of the party, and in 2014 he tried unsuccessfully to unseat Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Now he is officially "breaking up" with the GOP and is launching a campaign to start a new party, the Party of the Center. In a tongue-in-cheek letter posted online this week, he spelled out the reasons why their political romance went south.

"This is hard to write but I think we shouldn’t hang out together anymore," Morgan wrote. "I’d like to say it’s not you, it’s me. But I kind of think it is you. I know that’s harsh but you’ve changed and I just feel we’re going in different directions."

The style of his letter was an obvious attempt at humor, but Morgan says his new project to launch a new, centrist party in Kansas is anything but a joke.

"What we’ve realized is that parties have fundamentally changed over the last 120 years," he said during a phone interview Tuesday. "And you see this throughout the economy, where things have been disrupted by technology, by the way we have changed regulatory schemes. Parties, the same thing. It just hasn’t reacted to it yet."

Scott Morgan

Scott Morgan

Morgan said he is working with a core group of people, mainly in Douglas and Johnson counties, who feel like the two major parties have polarized to the left and right fringes of the political spectrum, leaving behind a large group of centrists who no longer feel at home in either camp.

"We’re smart enough to know these haven’t worked in the past, but we think the past is the past, and with all the changes the time is right," he said.

Under Kansas law, in order for a new party to be recognized and have its candidates listed on the ballot, organizers must collect petition signatures equal to 2 percent of all the ballots cast in the last election for governor. That would be about 18,000 signatures, based on the turnout in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Thereafter, it must nominate at least one candidate for a statewide office each gubernatorial election cycle, and its candidates must get at least 1 percent of the vote in order for the party to keep its recognition.

Morgan said he hasn't decided whether he will be a candidate for the new party, assuming it can achieve ballot access. But he said the party will recruit candidates for offices up and down the ballot, not just for the high-profile races. And he said that's a major difference between the organization he wants to launch and "independent" candidates like Greg Orman, the unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate in 2014 who is said to be considering a bid for governor in 2018.

"My issue with an independent candidate is, that affects one, typically high-level office, the state’s governor or Senate, and it does nothing down-ballot," Morgan said. "It does nothing for building a bench so you have a sustainable way to move forward."

Currently, there are only three recognized parties in Kansas: the Democratic Party, the Libertarian Party and the Republican Party.

A recent CNN-SSRS poll found widespread public dissatisfaction with the two major parties, with 62 percent of Americans saying they had an unfavorable view of the Republican Party and 51 percent saying the same about the Democratic Party.

Those numbers might suggest there is room for a new organization to gain a foothold with the public, but University of Kansas political science professor Patrick Miller says that's unlikely.

"Those disapproval numbers are relatively high, compared to recent years, but that is driven really by glowing hatred for the other party from your own side. The biggest driver is not that Americans across the board are coming to dislike both parties, although there has been an increase in that."

"The biggest driver in those increasing negatives is Republicans hating Democrats more and Democrats hating Republicans," Miller continued. "You don't have a big margin of politically involved people who dislike both parties. You have an electorate that largely likes their side, hates the other, and the people who dislike both parties, and in theory might be open to supporting a third option, are also the least likely to participate or care that a third option exists."

Comments

Ken Lassman

I think it's a wake up call to both the Dems and GOP that if they are so worried about losing more ground to the extremists that the moderates will see no need to stick around. Clearly the extreme right has developed a combination that has been outmaneuvering the moderates of the Republican Party, and while the Democrats have been such a small player in statewide politics it's harder to see that dynamic playing itself out there. The historical dynamic for our state has been more just switch parties instead of trying to create a middle third party, partly because the middle can be whittled away from both sides by both parties, leaving it more vulnerable.

But I don't see the Democrats making a concentrated effort to recruit moderate Republicans--maybe there are others more in the know that I am on that--and while there was some recovery by Republican moderates thanks to the excesses of the Brownback era, they are far from being secure in taking back the state GOP partly due to the infection coming from the national level.

Maybe Morgan doesn't like playing the same hardball politics that the extreme right played to get itself so well positioned in the GOP, only this time to move it back toward the middle? Maybe Morgan isn't hearing enough from the more moderate Democrats to be lured into their party? If these are the case, it is also hard to see how he will be able to muster the kind of leadership and strategy to establish and grow a viable party of the middle--but who knows?

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Richard Heckler

I am not sure where the far left is located. I find most so called liberals are moderate thinkers with few exceptions.

War is not the answer yet is blowing trillions of tax dollars that could be put to better use.

There is an economy in the Green Industry which in turn creates jobs jobs jobs and is among the new industries that could move America forward.

Medicare Single Payer Insurance is also a site for millions of new jobs in addition to reducing the cost of living to include reducing the cost of government substantially.

Public Education is an economic growth tool and a necessity that needs public education taxes reinstated.

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Bryan Bowen

I like this idea. For the last 20 some years I've been unhappy with every candidate and as a result every office holder. If anyone wants to sign the petition the link that says Party of the Center will take you there.

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Bob Smith

Let us know how that works out for you, Scott.

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Richard Heckler

It will be more difficult than anyone thinks.

Meanwhile what do these thinkers have on their minds regarding:

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE NOT GOP? To serial liars like Donald Trump, nothing poses a greater threat than the cold, hard truth. They win elections by preying on people who are not equipped with the information they need to make informed, reasoned decisions. Don’t let yourself be one of those people!

Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27...

Like it or not we old school republicans need to stop voting the republican ticket because ultra conservatives took over our party through unethical methods. Big reckless spending and monster lies. Time for all of us to break ranks with the GOP.

Not voting is the same as voting for ALEC and a very radical right wing government.

BIG DOLLAR ALEC DARK MONEY TRAIL IS EVERYWHERE.

The ALEC War ON America:

--- War against Medical Insurance and Single Payer

--- War on public education and Higher Education

--- War on the economy through Supply Side Wreckanomics

--- War against women

--- War on Voters Rights

--- War on strict gun regulations

--- War On National Monuments/Parks

--- War on the USA Postal Service

--- War On Environmental Cleanliness

--- War On Good Wages aka Right To Work Legislation

--- War On USA Jobs aka Free Trade Agreements and Leveraged Buyout Scams

--- War On Social Security Insurance

--- War On Medicaid

--- War On Medicare

--- War for Oil Control Worldwide

--- War on truth about global warming/climate change
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010...

Union of Concerned Scientists
http://www.ucsusa.org

Corporate Welfare Profiteering
http://www.rightwingwatch.org/report/...

Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27...

=== Pay close attention to this 24/7 organized activity:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2...

--- How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party
https://samsmitharchives.wordpress.co...

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Richard Heckler

While Morgan's concept is likeable as I see it moderate republicans, Green Party, and Progressive Democrats of America need to meet in the middle with the Progressive Democrats of America and bring this group under one umbrella.

There are a ton of voters under the umbrella of moderate republicans, Green Party, and Progressive Democrats of America and all have much in common.

The largest threat to the USA at the moment is the group masquerading as republicans pushing some heavy duty Radical Fascism on the voters:

Corporate Welfare Profiteering http://www.rightwingwatch.org/report/...

Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27...

=== Pay close attention to this 24/7 organized activity: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2...

--- How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party https://samsmitharchives.wordpress.co...

At the moment I am hearing much concern lately about the above on a variety of radio talk shows and such.

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Steve Jacob

I am warning everyone of the Republican civil war in these 2018 primaries. Guys like Sen. Corker and Sen. Fluke are no longer conservative enough to survive primaries and not run shows me how bad it's going to get.

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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