With all five statewide leadership positions up for reelection, the winners in November’s election will definitely set the tone for the future of Kansas. All five seats – governor/lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, insurance commissioner and state treasurer – are currently held by Republicans, but Kansas has a reputation of putting a Democrat in the governor’s office.
With the Kansas House and Senate, also dominated by Republicans, it’s likely Kansas voters feel the need to have at least a little diversity in the team, as a way of balancing a terribly “right” leaning ship. When Kansas elects a Democrat, it also seems to prefer it’s Democratic governors to be women. That’s why thinks look favorable for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly.
Kelly, a State Senator since 2004, has gathered a great deal of bi-partisan support for her campaign. In fact her list of endorsers are varied, including several former Kansas Republican governors, the Fraternal Order of Police, and most recently a coalition of Black pastors.
She’s up against current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is known nationally for his voter suppression efforts. While many of his suppression efforts, including a law requiring you to prove you’re a United States citizen before you can vote, have been struck down by the courts, he still stands strong behind his efforts that kept nearly 36,000 eligible voters off the roles as he searched for and found less than 10 people who voted in more than one jurisdiction. So far, he’s only found one non-citizen who voted.
Kobach, an ultra-conservative, supports many of the policies of former, and widely unpopular, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. His welfare reform measures call for work requirements to receive benefits as well as drug testing. He also support expanding rights to bear arms, and economic bumps in the economy created by keeping taxes and regulatory burdens low.
Kobach won out in the Republican primary over current Kansas governor Jeff Colyer, who was appointed earlier this year to complete the term of outgoing Gov. Brownback. A much more centrist candidate, Colyer offered a much more moderate Republican approach to issues. However, Colyer’s lost, set up a show down between two candidates on complete opposite ends of the political spectrum.
However, don’t forget Independent Greg Orman who definitely throws a wrench in the middle of the mixture. Orman, a wealthy businessman, could possibly prove to be the spoiler. Not that he’ll win, but whoever losses — and it won’t be by much — can claim they would have won if they had the Orman votes.
In a poll conducted by Emerson College earlier this month, Kelly and Kobach are polling statistically even with both coming in with about 37% of the vote, with 15% of the voters yet to make up their mind. While Kelly is pulling 18% of Republican vote, Kobach is pulling 8% of Democrats. Orman is doing well with Independents, earning 16% of their vote, 5% from Democrats and 8% Republicans.
This definitely is a race that will be won by the person who gets the most voters to show up and vote.