Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State speech to an annual joint session of the House and Senate at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.
Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP

Brownback’s ‘experiment’ gone wrong

Updated
In June 2012, soon after approving sweeping tax cuts his state clearly couldn’t afford, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) appeared on msnbc and described his agenda in a curious way. “We’ll see how it works,” the Republican governor said. “We’ll have a real-live experiment.”
 
More than two years later, Kansans have had a chance to see the results of this experiment first hand – and Brownback now appears to be losing his bid for a second term.
 
But as Rachel noted on the show last night, among the governor’s problems is an inability to justify his failures in office. Brownback talked to PBS’s Jeff Greenfield the other day and regretted his use of the word “experiment” to describe his economic plan, conceding that people are often uncomfortable with change.
GREENFIELD: [A]bout that experiment word?
 
BROWNBACK: Yeah, I shouldn’t have used that word. But the good news is, it’s working well. We’re growing. We’ve got record employment in Kansas.
 
GREENFIELD: Then after a brief discussion with an aide.
 
BROWNBACK: The things we’re doing are not anything new. Going to, getting your incomes taxes down, we got nine states without an income tax. That’s not new. So nothing we’re doing is new. Now it’s new that we’re doing it but nothing that we’re doing is different than what’s done before.
Well, that’s certainly a compelling explanation, isn’t it? “Nothing we’re doing is new,” followed immediately by “it’s new that we’re doing it.” I have no idea what Brownback’s aide whispered in the governor’s ear during the interview, but it wasn’t sound rhetorical advice.
 
Of course, this is about more than a clumsy governor struggling to defend his record. Brownback’s more pressing concern is that his “experiment” hasn’t worked at all. As we discussed in early August, Brownback’s economic plan – slash tax rates more than the state can afford and watch a miracle unfold – has failed miserably on every possible front. The state’s bond rating was downgraded in part due to these reckless tax breaks, and soon after, Kansas suffered another downgrade.
 
What’s more, this isn’t the only trouble for Kansas Republicans.
 
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Koback (R) is still trying to force state Democrats to nominate a U.S. Senate candidate to water down the opposition for struggling incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R). GOP officials needed a plaintiff for a lawsuit, and relied on a Brownback aide’s dad.
 
A three-judge Shawnee County panel didn’t decide Monday whether Kansas Democrats should be required to fill the vacancy left when Chad Taylor dropped out of the closely contested U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Pat Roberts, a three-term Republican.
 
The court challenge seeking to force Democrats to fill the vacancy hit a stumbling block Monday when David Orel, the man who filed the suit, failed to show up for his day in court.
It’s almost as if Republicans found a half-hearted litigant who isn’t fully committed to his own case.
 
With time running out and Kansas election officials needing to print ballots, this should be resolved within a day or two. Odds are, Koback, who’s helping oversee the elections process while also serving as a member of Pat Roberts’ re-election team, will be disappointed by the outcome.
 
The Rachel Maddow Show, 9/29/14, 10:44 PM ET

Failed economic 'experiment' puts Brownback on defense

Dave Helling, political reporter for the Kansas City Star, talks with Rachel Maddow about the struggle Kansas governor Sam Brownback is facing running for reelection amid economic calamity of his own making.

Kansas, Kris Kobach and Sam Brownback

Brownback's 'experiment' gone wrong

Updated