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Why 104 Kansas Republicans just endorsed a Democrat for governor

Governor Sam Brownback
Governor Sam Brownback
Andrew Burton / Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

On Tuesday, a group of 104 Kansas Republicans announced that they would endorse Democrat Paul Davis for governor, rather than incumbent Republican Sam Brownback.

The group, Republicans for Kansas Values, released a list of 10 reasons they were endorsing Davis, most of which focused on Brownback's tax and budget policies. "Brownback's reckless tax 'experiment' resulted in (1) deficit spending, (2) increased debt, and (3) reduced credit rating," the release reads. The group is mainly made up of former elected officials. It contains two former lieutenant governors, the current state insurance commissioner, and many former members of the state legislature.

The unusual mass endorsement comes after years of acrimony between Brownback and his state's moderate Republican faction, which resisted the governor's enormous tax cuts. In early 2012, Brownback moved against several moderate state senators, supporting primary challenges against them. Outside money from groups like Americans for Prosperity poured in.

8 moderate Republican senators ended up losing their seats to conservatives. Now, 7 of them have endorsed Paul Davis. "There’s a lot of anger toward the governor, who has played real hardball politics," University of Kansas professor Burdett Loomis said in a recent interview.

It's only the latest bad news for Brownback, who has trailed Davis in several recent polls. Since Kansas passed Brownback's massive tax cut, revenues have plummeted, and the state's bond rating has been downgraded. For more about how Brownback and Kansas got in this situation, check out Vox's report here.