TOPEKA (AP) — Democrat Tom Holland is trying to gain ground in the Kansas governor’s race by linking the Republican nominee, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, to federal financial bailouts. Brownback’s campaign contends that Holland is distorting the senator’s record.
The issue flared anew when a Brownback aide told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Monday that the Holland campaign was spreading a “falsehood” about the senator, while Holland’s camp accused Brownback of trying to confuse voters with “weasel words.” The two candidates had sparred over bailouts during a debate Saturday at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson.
Holland is criticizing Brownback over a July 2008 vote for a bill allowing a $200 billion bailout of federal mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Brownback voted for the measure that allowed the U.S. Treasury to extend credit and buy stock to help the mortgage firms.
“My opponent, Sam Brownback, has never balanced a budget in Washington,” said Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City. “He’d be more than happy to spend your money.”
Brownback responded that he later supported restrictions on the mortgage enterprises in May 2010 as part of an effort by Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain. That effort failed, but Brownback said the vote demonstrated his opposition to this type of federal assistance.
“To get the record straight,” Brownback said during the debate. “I voted against the bailout.”
Brownback and Holland are vying to replace Democrat Gov. Mark Parkinson. Also on the November ballot are Libertarian Party candidate Andrew Gray and Reform Party nominee Ken Cannon, neither of whom were at Saturday’s debate.
Dana Houle, Holland’s campaign manager, said Brownback viewed propping up Wall Street firms and boosting the federal deficit as “business as usual” while seeing properly financing Kansas public schools as an extravagance.
Brownback has taken issue with Holland’s vote during the 2010 Legislature for a 1-cent increase in the statewide sales tax to prevent deeper cuts in state programs.
Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Brownback’s campaign, said bluntly: “This is a falsehood.”
Jones-Sontag said McCain’s amendment would have required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to operate without federal subsidies on a level playing field with the private sector.