Without incumbents in the running, Kansas Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner races should be a free for all, but in heavily Republican Kansas, these races will be tough for the two highly qualified Democratic candidates to win.
However, the race for Secretary of State may not be so clear cut. After two-terms under current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Kansas are more cognizant that this position exist and matters.
The Secretary of State is in charge of running elections and for maintaining databases and records on everything from voter registration to business startups. However Kobach catapulted the position into the center of national attention and in the process led the legislature to pass the most restrictive voting laws in the country.
So, few people are going to take this race for granted. Instead of pushing just an “R” or a “D,” voters will think about the potential implications of what they’re doing.
Vying for this position are Republican Scott Schwab and Democrat Brian ”Bam” McClendon. McClendon from Olathe, has served in the Kansas House since 2002. As a legislator, and chairman of the House Elections Committee, Schwab vote for both the voter ID law and proof of citizenship laws.
McClendon, is an engineer and former small business owner. He co-founded the company Keyhole, which was brought by Google Earth, and is the foundation of Google Maps.
Schwab is one of six men who have stepped forward to fill Kobach’s shoes in an office that the secretary transformed from a relatively mundane post into a bully pulpit.
He also co-founded the nonprofit KSVotes.org which allows citizens of Kansas to complete voter registration or advance ballot requests in about three minutes from their mobile phones.
Vying for the position of Kansas Insurance Commissioner are Republican Vicki Schmidt and Democrat Nathaniel Mclaughlin. Schmidt, a pharmacist for 40 years also serves in the Kansas State Senate. McLaughlin, now retired, rose through the ranks of Sodexo Health Care Services to an executive position overseeing operations in seven midwest states.
McLaughlin is the only person of color running for either of the statewide positions. IF elected, he would be the first African-American to hold a statewide elected position in Kansas.
The other two statewide races feature incumbent Republicans running. Current Attorney General Derek Schmidt is taking on Democrat Atty. Sara Swain. Swain is a criminal defense attorney, started off as a public defender before starting her own law firm in Lawrence, KS. Last year, she successfully argued and won a case before the Kansas Supreme Court that gave indigent defendants access to funds for defense experts and investigators.
Schmidt, is vying for his third term as Kansas Atty. General. Fairly non-controversial, Schmidt has fought against human trafficking, crimes against children and elder abuse. A career politician, he served 10 years in the Kansas Senate and also worked in the offices of Gov. Bill Graves and Senator Nancy Kassebaum.
The office of Kansas Treasurer, is a position that collects and manages the state’s funds. Vying for this position are Republican Jake LaTurner and Democrat Marci Francisco. LaTurner, who was elected twice to the Kansas Senate from Southeast Kansas. He was appointed in 2017 to complete the term vacated when Ron Estes was elected to Congress. At age 29, LaTurner prides himself in being the youngest person elected to statewide office in the nation.
Francisco, served 14 years in the Kansas Senate and before that served on the Lawrence City Council and two years as Mayor of Lawrence. LaTurner prides himself on using social media to reach out to people with messages from the Treasurer’s Office and on a high rate of claims for unclaimed property.
Francisco, siting the high number of cyber attacks, says she will focus on keeping Kansas dollars secure, with work on strengthening financial literacy across the state and will focus on growing participation in the state’s 529 education savings plans.