Another Perspective

Kansas Moves First Presidential Primary to Last Tuesday

Senator Brownback expects to make strong showing.

By 9.11.07

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In the boldest move yet by a state seeking greater influence in the presidential nomination process, the Kansas legislature yesterday voted to move the state's presidential primary to last Tuesday.

"That'll show 'em!" declared House Speaker Melvin Neufeld. "Kansas is first and there ain't nothin' no one can do about it!"

The unconventional move baffled political pundits, many of whom wondered what good it would do Kansas to hold a primary in the past. "How will they get the ballots printed in time?" Washington Post columnist David Broder asked.

But Kansas politicians were universally thrilled with the new law.

"Finally, Kansas has had some influence in selecting our next president," Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said. "Thanks to this visionary law, every presidential candidate will be forced to have campaigned in Kansas in the three or four months leading up to last Tuesday. And in that time, they will have to have addressed issues important to Kansans, such as ethanol legislation and the really irritating fact that more people Google the '70s rock band Kansas than the state."

Senate President Stephen Morris was jubilant.

"At last, we are going to have had our say!" he shouted.

In New Hampshire, state officials were scrambling to try to figure out how to deal with the news. New Hampshire law requires that state's primary to come one week before any similar election.

"Well, frankly, we don't know what the hell to do," N.H. Secretary of State Bill Gardner said. "We've asked N.H. inventor Dean Kamen creator of the Segway Human Transporter, to build a time machine so we can have our primary the Tuesday before last. But he says it'll take a couple of years. In the meantime I think we'll just pretend that the Kansas primary didn't happen. Because, technically, it didn't. But honestly I'm not really sure our law allows us to ignore a competing primary just because it did not actually exist."

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said his state would simply ignore Kansas "like everyone else does."

Since no presidential candidates knew about the primary beforehand, the only one to actually campaign in Kansas was Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who wound up winning the Republican primary with four votes. The late Kansas governor and 1936 presidential candidate Alf Landon received two votes. The Democratic primary winner was Zeke Johnson from Topeka, whose cousins Melvin and Jane had, for "patriotic reasons," sent a letter to Gov. Sebelius asking that Johnson be named president "upon the next full moon, or at the earliest convenient time thereafter." They knew nothing of the official primary, but as there were no other votes, Gov. Sebelius said "that's good enough for me." Actor Ed Asner, a Kansas City native who has friends within the state Democratic Party, and presumably was tipped off to the legislation as it was being written, finished second with one vote sent in by absentee ballot -- from Hollywood.

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader and editor of the humor blog www.gunsnbutter.com.

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Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. You can follow him on Twitter at @Drewhampshire.