Clay Wirestone serves as Kansas Reflector's opinion editor. His columns have been published in the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, along with newspapers and websites across the state and nation. He has written and edited for newsrooms in Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida and Pennsylvania. He has also fact checked politicians, researched for Larry the Cable Guy, and appeared in PolitiFact, Mental Floss, and cnn.com. Before joining the Reflector in summer 2021, Clay spent four years at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children as communications director. Beyond the written word, he has drawn cartoons, hosted podcasts, designed graphics and moderated debates. Clay graduated from the University of Kansas and lives in Lawrence with his husband and son.
Six of the most notable, egregious and ridiculous Kansas campaign ads for the midterm election
By: Clay Wirestone - November 2, 2022
We can nearly see the finish line, folks. On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls in Kansas and across the nation to cast ballots in midterm elections. While we twiddle our thumbs (or cast advance ballots), let’s take a look at some of this season’s most notable, egregious or ridiculous campaign spots. This roundup […]
The ‘blue dot’ of Lawrence, Kansas, will soon have a new congressman. No one’s talking about it.
By: Clay Wirestone - October 31, 2022
Lawrence, a vivid blue dot in the sea of red that is Kansas, could soon be represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a Republican who opposes abortion rights and voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. If the Democrat in the race wins, he would have to drive more than five hours from […]
Silly season descends on Kansas politics: Manufactured outrage enough for everyone!
By: Clay Wirestone - October 26, 2022
With less than two full weeks remaining until Election Day, Kansas politicians have embraced silly season. That’s known as the time of the campaign cycle when candidate scroungings for votes will say anything — absolutely anything — to make news and shore up support. Few feel overly constrained by the facts. Not with ballots being […]
Many Kansas Democrats have zipped their lips on abortion rights. That’s a weird choice.
By: Clay Wirestone - October 24, 2022
A singular mystery looms over election season this year in Kansas. Why aren’t we hearing more about abortion? After all, it was only Aug. 2 that a breathtakingly large majority of Kansans — nearly 60% of voters — turned out to protect abortion rights. They rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would have […]
Searching for the future of Kansas’ Council Grove in three trees, three places and three people
By: Clay Wirestone - October 20, 2022
Downtown Council Grove practically floats off the pavement. The 19th century buildings levitate, careful gingerbread constructions of brick and mortar and stone, bringing the past to life while nudging the community into the future. I visited the city, about an hour south of Manhattan, last month. Council Grove isn’t a former industrial town tucked in […]
Democracy balances on the brink in Kansas and U.S. Too many of us choose not to notice.
By: Clay Wirestone - October 19, 2022
Kansas and all of the United States teeter on the edge of a treacherous canyon. If we drop into that vast gulf, climbing out again will take years if not decades. Yet nearly half of us, if not more, prefer to ignore the yawning abyss. As evidence, I present two separate yet interconnected stories. The […]
Lagging in Kansas governor’s contest, Derek Schmidt plays the race card
By: Clay Wirestone - October 12, 2022
I don’t believe Attorney General Derek Schmidt is racist. But he’s staking his campaign for governor on the belief that Kansans are. Twice within recent days, the Republican’s lagging campaign has deployed racially fraught ads and rhetoric, all with the apparent goal of scaring voters. It has distorted good work by honorable Kansans and played […]
‘It means community’: Kansas rural development director evangelizes small-town life
By: Clay Wirestone - October 10, 2022
When I began driving around the state for the Kansas Reflector last year, I didn’t know what to expect. I was raised and educated in Kansas, yes, but I had spent nearly 15 years away. When I returned, I worked in Topeka and Lawrence. The rural areas of my youth weren’t just distant in memory […]
Schmidt’s Kansas campaign message: Listen to Virginia, Florida, New Jersey and Kentucky
By: Clay Wirestone - October 5, 2022
Attorney General Derek Schmidt seems to believe that the pathway to the Kansas governor’s office involves making the race this fall as little about Kansas as possible. What else would you call the appearances with the governors from distant states like Virginia, Florida and New Jersey? Why would Schmidt highlight his stance against transgender students […]
Kansas doesn’t have a brand while New York does? Fuhgeddaboudit!
By: Clay Wirestone - October 3, 2022
Here’s a three-word response to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ claim last week that Kansas doesn’t have a brand. Sunflowers, tornadoes and abolitionists. Here are a few more, for the sake of completeness. Bison, chili with cinnamon rolls, and the “Wizard of Oz.” With that out of the way, it’s worth asking why the […]
Adventures in Kansas campaign lingo: Vote for me! Not that other person!
By: Clay Wirestone - September 28, 2022
This morning, let’s imagine some homespun Kansas campaign rhetoric. It could be from the governor’s race. It could be from a U.S. House race. It could be from anyone you please. “My dear friends, I urge you to vote for me rather than my opponent! I’m fantastic, but they’re awful. “My opponent won’t confirm their […]
Without asking for it, transgender kids have been swept up into Kansas political imbroglio
By: Clay Wirestone - September 26, 2022
Kansas politicians and school districts have contorted themselves in fury recently over simple requests of transgender students. Treat us fairly and inclusively. Call us by our names and treat us with respect. Value our lives. We saw it recently in Gardner Edgerton School District, as a proposed policy covering trans students would have forbidden teachers […]