Certainly Democrats are the liberal and more progressive party, but are Kansas Democrats open-minded enough to nominate former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer as the first African-American candidate for governor?
When he announced his run right after the first of the year., former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, 60, was the first Democrat to jump into the governor’s race Since then, he’s gained some competition. However, the Democratic field of gubenatorial candidates is far from packed. Yet tried and true Democrats, and even the media, seem to be waiting for “THE” candidate to enter the race.
Few if any of the party standouts have openly embraced Brewer’s run and the state’s Democratic Party has failed to jump on the Brewer bandwagon. Instead, they’ve decided to remain neutral. But somehow, it just doesn’t feel like they think Brewer is “THE” candidate they’ve been waiting for.
Democrats were hoping Lawrence Atty. Paul Davis, would make another run for the governors office, after narrowly losing out to Gov. Sam Brownback in the 2014 election. However with the retirement of Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, the 2nd Congressional race was wide open, and Davis decided to try instead for a seat in Washington D.C.
While the Democrats were sad to lose him as a gubernatorial candidate, they were pleased about their chance of gaining at least one seat in Kansas’ congressional delegation.
So, with the door wide open, Brewer decided to step in. In past years, Kansas Democrats would have been ecstatic to even have a candidate, especially since there were years when they were begging people to run. But this year, things are different. With no clear Republican frontrunner, the Democrats are more determined than ever to get a strong candidate and a win. Following in the footsteps of an unpopular governor and an unpopular Republican president, they feel with the right candidate, they have a good chance of gaining the governor’s office.
Kansas Democrats know they’ll have to win over a lot of Independents and moderate Republicans if they expect to prevail. So despite Brewer’s military service and strong results as the two-term Mayor of Kansas’ largest city, Democratic leaders just aren’t excited about his candidacy.
So who are they supporting? It doesn’t appear they’re that excited about any candidate yet.
Also in the race is Josh Svaty, 37, a former state legislator and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture. So far Svaty has taken a lot of flak from Democrats for previous anti-abortion votes he made while he was in the legislature. Still, with a young pretty wife, adorable kids, chiseled looks, deep Kansas roots, a farming background, and yes White skin, he has the “stuff” needed to be a successful Kansas gubernatorial candidates. Even without strong name recognition, his race seems to be gaining steam, thanks in part to substantial, and what appears to be much more serious coverage, by the Kansas media.
Recently to join the race is political novice Arden Andersen, 59, a doctor, member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves and a former teacher. He says he was motivated to run by a need for more spending on healthcare and education. While Johnson and Wyandotte County
Democrats may carry a lot of weight in Kansas, it’s too early to see whether they will put their force behind this political newcomer.
Finally, in the race is Wichita teenager Jack Bergeson, whose run has caught national attention and an appearance on Jimmy Kimbell’s late night television show.
There’s a group that continues to hope Wichita Legislature and House Minority leader Jim Ward, 59, will enter the race. Although he already has a Ward for Kansas website, he still hasn’t entered the race. If Ward is planning on making a move, he needs to do it quickly. While June 1, 2018 is the official filing deadline, early entry into the race gives a candidate time to lock in donors, raise money and put together a campaign team. Also, from January until the end of the legislative session (approximately April) candidates can only take donations from individuals, and not from lobbyists, political action committees or businesses.
Still, Ward is such a Democratic Party darling, he may be enter the race late, and still pull off a primary victory.
Will Kansas Democrats nominate an African-American candidate? While it may be tough, Brewer seems prepared to do due what it takes to win. He’s dedicating full-time to his run, getting out and getting known in small town Western Kansas, and building personal relationships with the voters.
We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s going to be an interesting year in Kansas politics.