Op-Ed: Recall Brownback: A wonderful sentiment, but a futile exercise

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Op-Ed by Thomas Witt
Executive Director, Equality Kansas

Since November, and particularly since the beginning of the 2015 legislative session in January, there has been a chorus of voices calling for the recall of Governor Sam Brownback. Those calls have only intensified as the year has progressed and his radical, far-right agenda becomes ever more obvious to all. His February rescission of the Sebelius non-discrimination order has angered many Equality Kansas members and allies, and I have been asked repeatedly about our plans to encourage or participate in any recall movement.

Recalling Brownback is a wonderful sentiment, but would ultimately be a futile exercise. Each state has its own process for recalling elected officials, and the laws for Kansas recalls are written to make success virtually impossible. I spent some time this weekend researching the Kansas statutes that govern recalls. The process is complicated, but hopefully this explanation, along with links to the relevant statutes, will help with understanding exactly how daunting a recall effort would be:

1. We have to wait until Brownback has served no less than six months of his current term. (KSA 25-4305)

2. The Governor has to have committed a felony or other serious offense. (KSA 25-4302)

3. We have to collect signatures of registered voters equal to 10% of the electorate in the previous election. (KSA 25-4306)

4. The Secretary of State (Kris Kobach!) has to certify there are actual grounds for a recall. Since Brownback hasn’t committed a felony, whether or not he’s carried out the duties of his office will be up to Kobach to decide. (KSA 25-4308)

5. Once (and if) Kobach certifies the petition, we then have to run a second petition, and this time get a number equal to 40% of the previous electorate to sign. Not only that, but petition pages cannot have signatures from more than one county each, and each page has to be notarized. We have 90 days from certification to get those signatures collected and submitted. (KSA 25-4311KSA 25-4310)

6. Then we have to win the recall election. That doesn’t replace the governor; it just makes the office vacant. (KSA 25-4316)

7. Finally, we have no say in who replaces Brownback. The line of succession is right-wing Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, followed by the President of the Senate, and finally the Speaker of the House. (KSA 75-125)

Any attempt to recall Sam Brownback would consume thousands of hours of staff and volunteer time, and would likely cost millions of dollars. In the end, even if we win, we lose. We must face reality: elections have consequences, and the consequences of November means Brownback and his allies remain in control of the statehouse for at least the next two years.

There are ways we can fight back, however. Contributions to Equality Kansas (click here!) are always welcome, and help us fight anti-LGBT legislation. Get involved in a local city council or school board race - the election is April 7, and there are friendly candidates across the state! Let us know where in Kansas you are, and we will put you in touch with candidates who would welcome your help. Keep an eye on 2016, when we will have an opportunity to elect state representatives and state senators who believe in equality for all and who will stand with us against this radical-right nonsense. We will be looking for candidates to run (if you're interested, give us a call), volunteers to help, and donors to contribute.

Lastly, get involved in your local Equality Kansas chapter! It's only through grass-roots community organizing that we are able to succeed with our mission. You can find a directory of chapters on our website at http://eqks.org/chapters/.

The Gayly – March 10, 2015 @ 11am.