Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone serves as Kansas Reflector's opinion editor. His Reflector columns have been published in the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, along with newspapers and website across the state and nation. He has written columns and edited reporting 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 a host of other publications. 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.

Members of the Kansas news media gather to cover Gov. Laura Kelly's signing of a cut in the state's sales tax on food. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

News media can tell you what’s the matter with Kansas. But you have to do the repairs.

By: - June 8, 2022

The news media won’t save you. The news media — even the opinionated and outspoken parts of it like this opinion section — won’t save Kansas or the United States. I wish more people understood this, because if you want our nation to see a revival in civic participation and progressive values, you have to […]


Report on legislators in ‘far-right’ Facebook groups doesn’t tell real story of Kansas extremism

By: - June 6, 2022

By any measure, the Kansas Legislature has a problem with right-wing extremism. Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson physician, introduced legislation that would give him an exemption for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients. Sen. Mike Thompson shared in the viral skepticism, while also agitating against wind power. And Rep. Cheryl Helmer spewed a torrent of lies […]

The Kansas state Democratic Party is grappling with allegations, published in the Kansas City Star, that its executive director created a toxic work environment. (Getty Images)

Hey, Kansas Democrats: Your internal strife distracts activists when you can least afford it

By: - June 2, 2022

The headline in the Kansas City Star was the kind that no political organization of any stripe wants to see: “ ’He was a bully.’ KS Dems director made toxic workplace, ex-employees say. Party stands by him.” Kansas Democratic Party executive director Ben Meers has been accused by four former employees of creating that aforementioned toxic […]

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas gave a commemorative speech about Topeka's Porubsky's deli last week on the Senate floor. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector illustration from Moran photo by Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector and building photo from Porubsky's)

Closing of Topeka deli Porubsky’s marks end of an era — and earns tribute from Sen. Jerry Moran

By: - May 31, 2022

We live in an age of cookie-cutter culture. Drive around most places in Kansas — and the United States — and you’ll find the same Walmarts, the same Taco Bells, the same Applebees. You’ll see people dressed in the same clothes, driving the same cars, speaking in the same neutral accent. What you won’t find […]

A child crosses under caution tape at Robb Elementary School on May 25, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, during the mass shooting, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Another day in America and Kansas: Senseless murder of children and a fifth-grade graduation

By: - May 26, 2022

The same day that a shooter opened fire at a school in Uvalde, Texas, I attended my son’s fifth-grade graduation. The same day that 19 students from that school died, along with two teachers, I stood next to my husband and applauded after our camera-shy son took a certificate from his teacher. The same day […]

The Ad Astra statue aims high atop of the Kansas Statehouse on Jan. 24, 2022. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

One group’s not-so-impossible dream: progressive majorities in the Kansas Statehouse by 2026

By: - May 24, 2022

Cast your mind ahead to November of 2026. In that month, in that year, activists in Kansas could well be celebrating as voters send progressive majorities in both the state House and Senate. Wait, you say. What? That’s the ambitious aim of the nonprofit group Prairie Roots, headed up by executive director Peyton Browning. The […]


While Ukraine repels Russia, Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas votes against NATO support and $40B in aid

By: - May 19, 2022

As Ukrainians battle to save themselves from Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s war of choice, a U.S. representative from Kansas isn’t helping them.  In two big votes over the last two months, Rep. Ron Estes has voted against supporting NATO and sending $40 billion in military and economic support to Ukraine. In the earlier case, he […]


Simple reforms could make the Kansas Legislature more transparent. Leaders don’t want that.

By: - May 17, 2022

Kansas Reflector editor Sherman Smith published a must-read analysis last week. “How the Kansas Legislature avoids public scrutiny by hiding in darkness” included detail after detail showing how an institution with Republican supermajorities nonetheless takes shortcut after shortcut to conceal its actions. Others have written about these problems before. The Kansas City Star published a […]


With COVID-19 an unwanted houseguest, I gave thanks for vaccines and grew frustrated with society

By: - May 12, 2022

After two years and two months, COVID-19 finally arrived for my family. That meant much of last week was consumed with resting, checking temperatures, sneezing, coughing, ordering delivery and taking rapid tests. I wouldn’t recommend it as a family getaway package. (I suppose the ordering delivery part was OK.) Yet our experience showed how far […]


Abortion rights are in peril in Kansas and the U.S. Shock and outrage won’t change that.

By: - May 11, 2022

Sometimes, advocates should look to their opponents for inspiration. The leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade offers such an opportunity for pro-choice activists in Kansas and the United States. Emotions have run high as the land’s highest court appears ready to punt abortion rights back to the states. But emotions don’t suffice […]


Kansas Legislature wraps up veto session, and it surprisingly wasn’t a total Dumpster fire

By: - May 3, 2022

It could have been worse. That’s not the kind of statement that inspires excitement and applause, or rouses one’s fellow Kansans to ecstasies of celebration. It’s still an accurate summary of the 2022 Legislature, which saw its veto session careen to a close early Friday. At various points, chamber leaders or arch-conservative legislators proposed a […]

Friday's tornado in Andover reminds us that the chance of bad things happening must be accepted as an inevitable part of existence, writes opinion editor Clay Wirestone. The good news? We don’t have to do this alone. (Submitted by Gov. Laura Kelly's office)

In wake of latest Andover tornado, a newfound appreciation of risk in Kansas and beyond

By: - May 2, 2022

Few events shaped my childhood like the one-two punch of the Hesston tornado in 1990 and the Andover tornado in 1991. My family lived only 18 miles away from Andover, and the notion that a storm could descend from nowhere and wreak destruction terrified me. Those memories flooded back Friday night, when another powerful tornado […]