Races Set for August Primary Elections

Crowded race for governor a contrast to limited number of candidates in Kansas House races. 

Some of them have been campaigning for almost two-years, but they finally made it official in the last few days before the June 1 filing deadline for the Aug. 7, 2018 primary races. 

Up for election this year are All four Kansas Congressional Seats; All statewide offices, including the governor, secretary of state, attorney general, insurance commissioner and state treasurer; and all 125 Kansas House of Representative seats. 

It appears to be feast or famine for Kansas voters, with some races having up to 12 candidates, while more than half (58 out of 125)  of the Kansas House seats don’t have both a Democrat and a Republican candidates.  The most crowded race if for governor, with 12 duos – they candidates file as a team for governor and lieutenant governor – competing to lead the state. Of those duos – five are Democrats and seven are Republicans. 

Governor

Although we don’t have historic numbers, we’re certain this is the largest field of gubernatorial candidates this century.  Candidates for statewide office were obviously motivated to run by the lack of an incumbent, as well as a political environment that gave Democrats the belief that they could possibly prevail in what is typically a Republican State. 

Former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback had reached his two-year term limit, and would not have been able to seek re-election, so other Republicans with statewide recognition stepped up to run for his seat.  Lt. Governor, now Gov. Jeff Colyer, is banking the visibility he’s gained during the few months he’ll fill Brownback’s vacant seat, will give him a head start on his Republican opposition.  However, his opponents have big name recognition, with high profile Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach seeking the state’s top seat, as well as Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer. 

Scretary of State

Selzer and Kobach’s run for governor opened up their seats for a large group of hopefuls who were encouraged that they didn’t have to compete against an incumbent.  There are five Republicans and one Democrat competing for Kobach’s seat and two Republicans and one Democrat competing for the Insurance Commissioner position. 

Attorney General

A lot of people assumed Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt would jump in the governor’s race, but instead he decided to stay put.   He only has one opponent, a female Democrat, running against him.  The Democrats also have female candidates running for governor and State Treasurer. 

Current State treasurer Jake LaTurner, has been in his position for approximately a year.  He was appointed after Treasurer Ron Estes ran to fill the 4th District Congressional Seat vacated by Mike Pompeo, he was originally appointed to head up the CIA, in the Trump administration.  Since then, Pompeo has been appointed Secretary of State. 

Congress

Two of the four Kansas Congressional races are amazing crowded.  The 2nd Congressional District seat, being vacated by Republican Lynn Jenkins, has eight candidates.  Of those, only one is a Democrat.  Paul Davis, who barely lost out to Brownback in the 2014 gubernatorial race, is a strong contender to help Kansas gain some political diversity in its Federal delegation, and has a lot of Democrats already county this seat as one of the 25 seats they need to gain to take back majority control of the House of Representatives.  The 2nd Congressional District includes Topeka and a swath of eastern Kansas, except for the two counties — Wyandotte and Johnson – that are part of metropolitan Kansas City, KS. 

The 3rd Congressional District race has nine candidates, six Democrats and three Republicans.  Among the incumbent candidates in the incumbent, Cong. Kevin Yoder.   The 3rd is rather equally split district.  IN the 2016 presidential election, Hilary Clinton carried the district 47% to 46%.  The District was represented by Democrat Dennis Moore from 1999 – 2011, so Democrats have a reason to believe that with a big turnout, they can take this seat back. 

In the last congressional race in the 4th District, which includes Wichita and southcentral Kansas, was a little over a year ago.  After Pompeo, the district’s congressman, was appointed director of the CIA, Ron Estes, at the time the State Treasurer, filed for the seat, and barely defeated his Democratic opponent, Wichita Atty. John Thompson.  District voters were expecting a rematch, but they may not get it.  Both Estes and Thompson have opposition in their primary.  Thompson has a female opponent – Laura Lombard, and Ron Estes has an opponent Ron Estes.  No that’s not a typo, Ron M. Estes is running against Rep Ron Estes.  

In the 1st Congressional District Congressman Roger Marshall won out in an expensive, hard fought 2016 race against incumbent Tim Huelskamp.  This year he may have an easier go of it.  He has one Republican opponent and a Democrat. 

Insurance Commissioner

Nathaniel McLaughlin, who was the Democratic candidate in the 2016 District 2 Congressional race has thrown his had in another race.  This time, he’s vying for the office of Insurance Commissioner.  Rarely does an African American decide to take on a statewide run.  The last to do it was KS Sen. David Haley who ran for unsuccessfully for Secretary of State in 2002 and 2006.  This year we have two African Americans running for statewide office:  McLaughlin and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who’s running for governor. 

Kansas House

Every two years, all 125 members of the Kansas House must run for re-election.  Currently, there are six African-American members of the Kansas House.  Of those, only two drew an opponent.   Incumbents Broderick Henderson and Valdenia Winn from Wyandotte County are unopposed.  Rep. Gail Finney or Wichita and Barbara Ballard of Wichita and Lawrence, respectively, are also unopposed. 

One-term KS Rep K.C. Ohaebosim, who represents the 89th District in Wichita, has two opponents.  Atty. Marty Keenan, who is a fairly recent Wichitan.  He’s originally from Garden City.  His other opponent is Rev. LeSean Tarkington, senior pastor at Grant Chapel AME., and another fairly new Wichitan. 

Since there isn’t a Republican running in this district, this race will likely be decided in the primary.  So, if you support a candidate in the race, make sure you vote in the primary and get your yard signs out early. 

KS Rep Willie Dove, the only African-American Republican in the Kansas House also drew opposition.  Dove, who represents Bonner Springs, is opposed by Republican Noel Hull. 

This is just a portion of the ballot.  Most voters will also see other races on their ballot, including District Court Judges, District Magistrate judges and County Commission races. 

How to Register and Vote

If you want to vote, make sure you’re registered.  You can always check your registration status online at ksvotes.org.  It’s simple.  All you have to enter is your county, first and last name and date of birth.  If you’re not registered, you can register at ksvotes.org also.  If you register using the forms on this site, you don’t have to show proof of citizenship – a requirement of the Safe and Fair Election Law that went into effect in Jan. 2013.  The results of a series of lawsuits and rulings, Kansans who register to vote using a federal voter registration form cannot be required to provide proof of citizenship. So, if you’re not using this site to register, and you’re asked by a well-intentioned canvasser to register – ask them if they’re using the federal form.  If they’re not, either get prepared to submit proof of your citizenship to your local election office or just walk away. But, whatever you do, register and vote. 

The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 7 primary is Tues., July 17.

Note: On June 18, the Kansas Voter ID law was struck down by a federal district court judge as unconstitutional. We will monitor developments.

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