Candidates taking message door to door in 39th District
In just five days, voters in Kansas House District 39 will elect the successor to longtime Rep. Ray Cox, R-Bonner Springs. They'll be choosing between Corey Mohn, Democrat, and Owen Donohoe, Republican.
Donohoe, Shawnee, owns and operates a medical device company in Shawnee. Mohn, also of Shawnee, works for an economic development consultant firm in St. Louis. Neither has held a political office, though Mohn did run for Missouri's 3rd U.S. Congressional District in 2004.
The race for the 39th District, which includes Basehor, has proven more interesting than many state Legislature races for a couple of reasons.
First, Donohoe beat Cox's first choice to take his seat, Quentin Brewer. Like Cox, Brewer, who runs the Bonner Springs Price Chopper, is a moderate Republican, while Donohoe describes himself as a "traditional conservative," against abortion and the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research. Donohoe has also been promoted through mailings by Americans For Prosperity, an anti-tax group pushing for a so-called taxpayers' bill of rights in Kansas.
After Donohoe won the Republican primary in August, Cox surprised and angered some Republicans by coming out for Mohn. Cox's move was among a number of partisan line-crossings in state politics this season, including attorney general candidate Paul Morrison's switching to the Democratic Party to run against Attorney General Phill Kline. In May, Mark Parkinson, the former chair of the state Republican Party, announced he was switching parties the day before Gov. Kathleen Sebelius announced him as her running mate.
Both Mohn and Donohoe have been busy campaigning, walking door to door.
Mohn said that while there haven't been any polls, "we can tell we've got momentum on our side."
Mohn said his support by Cox and other moderate Republicans means he has "broad-based support."
Mohn said economic development and education are two key issues he's heard from people as he campaigned. He cited his endorsement by several major public-education groups, including Citizens for Higher Education and E-PAC, a committee comprised of members of local school boards and school administrators across Kansas.
Donohoe, busy and hoarse with campaigning, could not be interviewed in time for press by the Chieftain but did respond to questions by e-mail.
Donohoe estimated he had visited between 8,000 and 10,000 households while campaigning.
He wrote, "tax relief and immigration have been the two biggest concerns voiced by the people I've met door to door. People who have lived here 30-plus years are afraid of being taxed out of their homes, and are frustrated that their tax dollars are being used to pay the costs of illegal immigration."
Donohoe said he is supported by "all the major small-business and agribusiness organizations because of my economic plan to increase revenues and job growth by creating an environment for small businesses to excel."
One of Donohoe's issues throughout the campaign has been immigration. He wants to repeal the Kansas law that allows illegal immigrants who attended a Kansas high school for at least three years and graduated or earned a GED to pay in-state tuition at public universities.
As for possible effects on his race from the recent political troubles of Republicans in Washington, D.C., Donohoe wrote, "I believe the Republican base is more energized than we've been led to believe, especially in my district."
While both candidates say economic development is key to growing local economies, each has a different opinion on how best to promote it. Donohoe says reducing taxes is the best way to grow the local economy, while Mohn advocates using state programs such as sales tax revenue bonds to encourage development.
Both candidates also have said they would support allowing an increase in the local-option budget for school districts.