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Last Wednesday evening a record number of 11 Republican candidates for president were on stage for a televised debate. I came away with the feeling that a real debate had not occurred.

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Real estate mogul Donald Trump is currently the frontrunner for the 2016 Republican nomination for president. He has defied all predictions that his campaign for the nomination would collapse not long after he announced his candidacy.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr / Creative Commons

The embryonic Republican presidential primary season has witnessed the startling rise of Donald Trump in early polling. As the current frontrunner among a crowd of other GOP presidential hopefuls, the bombastic Trump, a real estate mogul and former host of hit television series "The Apprentice," has predictably attracted increased criticism from his fellow competitors. One of the charges directed his way is that he is a rich “reality TV star” with little concrete political experience.

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An earlier version of this piece aired August 4, 2015, during All Things Considered.

There’s more than a year before the 2016 election, but some races in the Kansas Statehouse are starting to take shape. Just this week, Wichita school board member Lynn Rogers decided to challenge sitting Republican state Sen. Michael O’Donnell. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that’s just one of several challengers taking on incumbent state senators.

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Many Americans think and express the view that the United States is the greatest country in the world and that it has the best political and economic system that ever did exist. That may be, but we ought to ask: In comparison with what?

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Many Americans complain about the dominance of our two-party system at election time. America is peculiar among democracies with its two-party political system, which is in contrast to the multi-party system that is present in most other democracies. Having a two-party system means that candidates for any elected office, from president on down, are more likely to be successful if they run as a Republican or as a Democrat.

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The United States Supreme Court decided two landmark cases this past week. One affirmed subsidies for Americans purchasing health care insurance on a federal exchange. In a second case, Obergefell v. Hodges, the court, after refusing to hear earlier cases, declared same-sex marriage to be a right guaranteed under the Constitution, by expanding the penumbra of a constitutional right to gay couples.

Stephen Koranda file photo / KPR

Emotions ran high, the political atmosphere was tense, and Governor Brownback reportedly “choked up” in a meeting with legislative leaders before the Kansas legislature ended its 2015 session at 4:00 a.m. on a Friday, when the House passed the largest tax increase in Kansas history.

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A report from the Congressional Joint Economic Committee shows that private-sector job growth in Kansas has lagged behind other states in the region.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kansas came in fourth in its five-state region when measuring private-sector job growth since the 2007 start of recession.

When compared to the beginning of the recession, Kansas private-sector jobs had grown 1.6 percent.

Ahead of only Missouri, Kansas lagged behind Colorado, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

Stephen Koranda

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Aggressive messages from top aides to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the prospect of furloughs for state workers still couldn't push a new plan from GOP leaders for raising taxes to close a budget shortfall through the state Senate early Monday morning.