Winners and losers from Tuesday’s primaries in Kansas and Missouri

Winner: Moderation

Greg Smith of Overland Park and Jeff Melcher of Leawood were among the five conservatives in the Kansas Senate who lost their seats to moderate Republicans. Dinah Sykes, who beat Smith, and John Skubal, who challenged Melcher, ran energetic campaigns critical of the policies that have depleted the state’s coffers and set up showdowns over school funding. Moderate Republicans did well in contested House races as well, particularly in Johnson County. It took awhile, but Kansas voters seem to have realized that entrusting state government to right-wing think tanks may not be such a great idea.

Winner: Guns

Missouri’s next governor will be Eric Greitens or Chris Koster. One unusual aspect of the race is that Greitens, who won the Republican primary, used to be a Democrat, while Koster, the Democratic nominee, used to be a Republican. Both support gun rights. Greitens is a former Navy SEAL (as he’s always reminding us) who fired a machine gun in one of the campaign ads depicting him as a less taciturn Jason Bourne. Koster, meanwhile, is solidly pro-gun, which disappoints Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James and other Democrats who don’t have to campaign in the boot heel.

Loser: Sam Brownback

When Brownback was reelected Kansas governor in 2014, Esquire blogger Charlie Pierce mocked the voters as “clodhopping, drooling yahoos who looked at the undeniable fact that Brownback has turned their state into a lab rat for the most extreme applications of conservative economics and, thereby, into a basket case for which you would need a basket the size of a container ship.” The electorate on Tuesday wiped away the saliva and supported moderates who were critical of Brownback and his fellow conservative experimentalists.

Brownback has always seemed bored with the idea of being the governor of a small state. Now he’s a lame duck with a less compliant Legislature. He may just stop showing up.

Loser: Rex Sinquefield

Rex Sinquefield has given millions of dollars to candidates and causes in his effort to remake Missouri into a less taxed, more libertarian place. He spends big but loses often, and Tuesday’s election was no different. Kurt Schaefer, whose campaign received $2 million from Sinquefield and related committees, lost to Josh Hawley in the Republican primary for Missouri attorney general. Sinquefield also supported Catherine Hanaway, who finished fourth in the race for the Republican nomination for Missouri governor.

Riverfront Times editor Sarah Fenske made a good joke about Sinquefield’s run of defeats on Twitter:

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Loser: Jerks

Voters in western Kansas elected Tim Huelskamp to the U.S. House in 2010. A Tea Party leader who liked to throw elbows, Huelskamp annoyed his fellow Republicans to the point he got kicked off the House Agriculture Committee. Losing a seat at the table where USDA subsidies are discussed did not sit well in places like Wamego. Huelskamp lost in the Republican primary to an obstetrician who had the support of the various ag groups as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Some politicians are such pains in the ass that even other politicians can’t stand them.

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