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“I call on the Legislature to bring to my desk legislation that protects the unborn, establishing a culture of life in Kansas,” Mr. Brownback said in his first State of the State address.

Republican state legislators in Kansas who aim to curtail illegal immigration also want to repeal a law that provides in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants who graduate from Kansas high schools.

But an overemphasis on social issues could backfire on Republican lawmakers, as voters are more interested in retaining and creating jobs than anything else, said AEI’s Mr. Ornstein.

“Certainly in the states, if you can’t do something in economic terms, I don’t think voters are going to be very happy,” he said.

“If [voters] believe that what is happening is, you’ve turned your focus to guns and abortion instead of to cushioning the blows of a difficult economy, [Republicans] are not likely to be in the majority very long.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.