Biggest Kansas Upset, Part Three: Jason Osterhaus talked to voters personally about issues

Click here to read part one and part two about Jason Osterhaus’ victory over establishment icon and liberal Republican Larry Winn the Third.

For today’s article, I’ll copy below my mail newsletter today, in which I discuss the 4th District County Commission race.  In summary:  the number one reason that Jason Osterhaus won was because he out-worked his opponent.  Alongside this, Osterhaus communicated a clear, simple, economically conservative, Republican message to all voters; he did not pretend to be all things to all people.  The voters were receptive to this message, and while Osterhaus did not have the money to send mail out about his message, he one-upped Larry Winn by communicating the message face-to-face, at the voters’ doors.

Click here to read a Web page version of the following Email.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A More Conservative County Commission

The biggest upset in Kansas: Jason Osterhaus defeats liberal establishment icon Larry Winn

Number two upset: Michael Ashcraft defeats Doug Wood for 5th District County Commission

Congratulations to Commissioners-elect Michael Ashcraft and Jason Osterhaus


There was much exciting news from the November 2, 2010 election cycle. Right now, I’d like to talk about two races, and how these two elections demonstrate that:

  • Issues do matter,
  • Communication methods have changed, and for the better,
  • Fundraising disadvantages can be overcome, and
  • The underdog can still win in American politics.

Both elections were within the Johnson County Commission. By about 100 votes, Michael Ashcraft defeated 12-year incumbent Doug Wood. And by a huge 1400-vote margin (53% to 47%), Jason Osterhaus defeated Larry Winn the Third.

There is one at-large chair, and there are six districts. Each district is larger than a Kansas Senate district in population. The county’s annual budget is approaching a billion dollars, and wasted/fraudulent spending is all to easy given that it merely takes four votes to approve spending (contrast that to the state or federal government, where both the House chamber and the Senate chamber must approve the same law, and then the law must be signed by a separate chief executive).

The dominant issues in both of these races were these:

  • The size and role of government,
  • The fact that both Doug Wood and Larry Winn opposed property rights (supporting freedom-less eminent domain policies),
  • The fact that both Doug Wood and Larry Winn raised taxes, and
  • The fact that both Doug Wood and Larry Winn tolerate enormous amounts of waste in local government.

The biggest upset in the state of Kansas

The biggest upset in Kansas during 2010 — and perhaps over the last decade — was in the Overland Park-based 4th District, where Jason Osterhaus defeated Larry Winn 53% to 47%. To be clear, this district:

  • Voted for Barack Obama in 2008
  • Voted for Kathleen Sebelius in 2006
  • Voted for Dennis Moore over Kris Kobach in 2004 for US Congress
  • Is 100% dominated by liberals on the Overland Park City Council
  • Has 2/3 of its voters over the age of 50. Larry Winn is 68 and Jason Osterhaus is 35. Larry Winn’s father was a US congressman in the 1970s.

For a humorous take on this election, I’ll encourage you to read an editorial at the regional news site Kaw and Border. In “Winn, Lose, or Make Excuses,” the author looks at a recent Johnson County Sun article, and applies the Kubler-Ross model of the “Five Stages of Grief” to two Larry Winn supporters who were interviewed for the Sun article.

In our final poll before the election, we learned that:

  • Jason Osterhaus was winning 64% of Republicans
  • Osterhaus was winning 50% of Independents
  • Osterhaus was winning 30% of Democrats
  • Osterhaus was narrowly losing among voters over the age of 50 with 48%
  • Osterhaus was winning 64% of voters under the age of 50.

(above margin of error 6.1%)

Compare the favorability numbers:

Jason Osterhaus:

  • Very favorable, 33%
  • Somewhat favorable, 23% (total favorable, 56%)
  • Somewhat unfavorable, 10% (total unfavorable, 14%)
  • Very unfavorable, 4%
  • No opinion or haven’t heard about, 30%

Larry Winn:

  • Very favorable, 20%
  • Somewhat favorable, 31% (total favorable, 51%)
  • Somewhat unfavorable, 17% (total unfavorable, 26%)
  • Very unfavorable, 9%
  • No opinion or haven’t heard about, 24%

Kris Kobach:

  • Very favorable, 38%
  • Somewhat favorable, 14% (total favorable, 52%)
  • Somewhat unfavorable, 7% (total unfavorable, 37%)
  • Very unfavorable, 30%
  • No opinion or haven’t heard about, 11%

Steve Rose:

  • Very favorable, 16%
  • Somewhat favorable, 21% (total favorable, 37%)
  • Somewhat unfavorable, 20% (total unfavorable, 31%)
  • Very unfavorable, 11%
  • No opinion or haven’t heard about, 33%

(above margin of error 6.5%)

Of the four names above, you can see that Kris Kobach has the highest “very favorable” numbers, that Jason Osterhaus has the highest overall favorable numbers, that Kris Kobach’s “very favorable” numbers are greater than Steve Rose’s total favorable numbers, and that 1/3 of voters either have no opinion or haven’t heard of Steve Rose, who uses his weekly front-page column to lie about conservatives, and to promote the religious belief that local government is nothing but wonderful in Johnson County.

What Jason Osterhaus was up against

The local political and news establishment did not think Jason Osterhaus had a chance. Many Republicans did not think Jason Osterhaus had a chance. To some degree, it made sense that Larry Winn should easily have won. Jason Osterhaus only raised $10,000 and nobody had heard of him six months ago.

Meanwhile, Larry Winn:

  • Raised $70,000.
  • Supported by Ronnie Metsker, Johnson County Republican Party Chairman.
  • Larry Winn’s campaign was run by one of Sam Brownback’s state-wide co-chairs, John Petersen of Overland Park.
  • Supported by Ernie Straub, a leader within Kansans for Life.
  • Entered the race with high name ID.
  • Sam Brownback refused to take a position, despite Larry Winn’s support of all things Democrat.
  • County Commissioner David Lindstrom, who supported Chuck Vogt in the primary, refused to support Osterhaus in the general, continuing Commissioner Lindstrom’s trend of preferring more to be liked at Leawood cocktail parties than taking a stand in support of Republican values. It must have been this guy’s brother or cousin who was a professional football player; not this Lindstrom.
  • Supported by the left-wing “Mainstream Coalition.”
  • Supported by The Johnson County Sun’s Steve Rose.
  • Supported by The Kansas City Star.
  • Supported by former Overland Park Mayor Ed Eilert, now County Chair.
  • Supported by current Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach.
  • Supported by Chuck Vogt, who lost in the primary to Osterhaus and Winn. In the primary, Vogt claimed to be conservative and pro-life.
  • Supported by Overland Park City Councilwoman Donna Owens, who lost in the primary.
  • Supported by State Senator Tim Owens.
  • Supported by every single member of the Overland Park City Council.
  • Supported by 22nd District House member Lisa Benlon (former Republican, now a Democrat).
  • Supported by former State Senator and Senate President Dick Bond.
  • Recent chair of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce.
  • Recent chair of the Shawnee Mission School Board.

Why Jason Osterhaus won

The most important reason to why Jason Osterhaus won is that he walked door to door and met voters, while Larry Winn merely sent out mail with the implied message of, “I’m the guy.”

Other important factors for Jason Osterhaus:

  • He campaigned as an honest, authentic, economically conservative Republican.
  • Larry Winn is a Democrat. People have learned this. Larry Winn supported Dennis Moore over Kris Kobach in 2004, and he supported Lisa Benlon over Greg Smith in 2010. He supports the “Mainstream Coalition,” a group that promotes intolerance and socialism, and that sends spies into area Christian churches.
  • Jason Osterhaus was supported by House Majority Leader Ray Merrick.
  • Supported by Kris Kobach.
  • Supported by House Judiciary Chair Lance Kinzer.
  • Supported by Representative-elect Amanda Grosserode.
  • Supported by Rep-elect Greg Smith.
  • Supported by Rep-elect Brett Hildabrand.
  • Supported by Rep-elect John Rubin.
  • Supported by Rep-elect Kelly Meigs.
  • Supported by Kansans for Life.
  • Supported by the Hope for America Coalition.
  • Supported by the Northwest Johnson County Republicans PAC.
  • Supported by the Kansans for State and Local Reform PAC (our PAC).
  • Supported by radio host Darla Jaye.
  • Supported by former Sheriff Currie Myers.
  • Larry Winn supports corruption. This is evident through his no-bid contracts at the Shawnee Mission School District. It is evident through Larry Winn’s work with the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, where Chamber directors promoted Kansas’ most known corrupt government administrator — JCCC’s Terry Calaway — to lead the group’s Economic Development area.
  • Oddly, Larry Winn was under the impression that voters wanted to know that he was supported by Steve Rose, The Kansas City Star, and the “Mainstream Coalition.”

Again, congratulations to both Michael Ashcraft and Jason Osterhaus for winning their races. Congratulations to the many, many volunteers who helped out their campaigns.

To conclude, I want to again emphasize two things:
– Ideas and issues win elections.
– Underdogs still can win in American politics.

Thank you for your time, as always.


Benjamin Hodge


Connect with Benjamin Hodge at FacebookTwitterLinkedInThe Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas.  He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011.  His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRAKansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).


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