As a politically active college student in Wichita, Mark Parkinson audaciously ran for a seat in the Kansas House at age 20. He didn’t win, but he learned the value of sweating through a door-to-door campaign. He went on to serve in the Kansas House and Senate, lead the Kansas Republican Party and made friends across the political landscape as a moderate Republican.
It was a shock to some that he switched his party affiliation in 2006 to the Democratic Party and became a candidate for lieutenant governor on a ticket with incumbent Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. They won that race. He then became governor when Sebelius resigned to work for President Barack Obama. His reward was to govern during a brutal recession, work on developing a new state highway plan, initiate a statewide indoor smoking ban, deal with a tortured debate on energy policy, and, of course, raise taxes.
Parkinson says there’s no political legacy of him as governor, but an article just published by Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains offers a counterpoint to that claim. Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washington University was part of the interviews and editing of the article and joins Tim Carpenter on this episode of the Reflector Podcast.