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.
Former Kansas Gov. Parkinson claims to have ‘Forrest Gumped’ his way to state’s top political job