Supporters of Sen. Sam Brownback's bid for governor of Kansas definitely had the greater numbers at the first debate between Brownback and his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Tom Holland at the State Fair on Saturday.
Wearing matching light tan "I am a Brownbacker" t-shirts, the busloads of supporters outnumbered the Holland supporters by more than 2-1 in the crowd of about 400 spectators at the debate.
State Fair debate audiences are always encouraged to be vocal because the programs are aired live on WIBW Radio. But Saturday's crowd was enthusiastic with booing, cheering and heckling. Brownback supporters' chants of "Time's Up" and "No Taxes" frequently completely drowned out anything Holland said.
The most contentious issue of the debate centered on school funding with Brownback saying too much of the state's budget goes to schools with too little of the money being spent in the classroom and Holland defending the current funding formula, which was crafted in the wake of a court ruling that ordered more funding go to Wichita schools.
The candidates also clashed on job creation, with Holland challenging Brownback to be specific about how he would create jobs and Brownback countering that the problem is with state government, which needs to overhauled to "get the atmosphere right" with lower taxes and less regulation.
Throughout the debate, Brownback tied Holland to Obama, decrying the Holland-Obama agenda. Holland assailed Brownback as a Washington insider at one time saying "Sam, you've been there 16 years; you ARE Washington."
Brownback is leading the race by a wide margin in the polls and has a long list of endorsements from the state's farm groups, who made up the majority of the Fair audience.