The Wichita Eagle headline said it all, “Trump invited the incoming Kansas governor to the White House. She said she was busy.”
Thirteen new governors, both Democrat and Republican, were not too busy to show for a meet and great with President Trump. Laura Kelly was not among them. “Kansas faces many challenges and the Governor-elect’s first priority is to draft a balanced budget and lay the groundwork to rebuild Kansas,” Kelly spokeswoman Ashley All told McClatchy DC.
This was not the Laura Kelly voters were promised on the campaign trail. The week after her November victory, Kelly repeated the theme on which she grounded her campaign. “I think what we will need at the end of the session more than anything is setting an entirely new tone in the state of Kansas,” said Kelly. “Taking us from this divisive battle to a much more collaborative, consensus building approach to building the state.”
As one liberal publication noted of her victory, “Wherever Republicans have gained ground by stoking hatred and fear, we are building bridges of understanding.” To date, these bridges seem to be the proverbial bridges to nowhere.
By snubbing the president, Kelly reinforces the divide that even liberal Republican legislators like Melissa Rooker experienced on the campaign trail. “I’m in the midst of a fairly ugly campaign being waged by the very far left,” Rooker told the Pitch two months ago. “Right now Democrats say compromise is bad. My opponent is being supported by a group of people pushing the narrative that the GOP is a party of fascists and anyone who’s part of the GOP is a fascist.”
Had she visited with the president, Kelly could have sent the message to her minions that Trump is not the fascist monster Democrats and their media allies assumed him to be, but then again, she got elected by projecting that same, media-reinforced image on to Kris Kobach. Why be honest now?