Many incumbent House members are facing primary opponents this year, but none have Kansas Rep. Ron Estes’ (R-Wichita) problem. Mr. Estes’ lone Republican nomination foe actually shares his name. To mitigate the confusion, election authorities announced this week that they are allowing Congressman Estes to appear on the August 7th primary ballot as “Rep. Ron Estes.” The secondary Mr. Estes will be listed as “Ron M. Estes.”
While the Kansas gubernatorial primary is not until August 7th, Remington Research went into the field to provide early numbers for the Republican nomination battle. According to their poll (5/14-15; 1,441 KS likely Republican primary voters via automated message device), Gov. Jeff Colyer, who ascended to the Governorship when incumbent Sam Brownback (R) accepted a federal appointment, has only a 29-27% slight lead over Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Though eight Republicans are in the race, it already appears the GOP primary is winnowing down to the two major candidates.
State House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita) has ended his gubernatorial campaign. With state Rep. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) capturing the party’s liberal faction and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer (D) squeezing him from a geographic perspective, Mr. Ward had a very narrow path to victory. Instead, he announced that he will seek another term in the state House.
State Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) is attracting support from national liberal organizations in her quest to win the Democratic gubernatorial primary and staking out the party’s left flank in a crowded field could go a long way to winning that election. Sen. Kelly has already lifted herself into the top tier of primary candidates. Along with former Health & Human Services Secretary and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) and many state legislators and Kansas Democratic leaders endorsing her, the national social issue organization EMILY’s List also announced their public backing of Ms. Kelly.
She faces state House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita), ex-Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, and former state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty in the August 7th Democratic primary.
Though the Republican gubernatorial primary draws most of the Jayhawk State political attention, largely because the eventual nominee will be the general election favorite, the Democrats have their own primary under way and a new poll suggests there is no clear front runner. State Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita), the state House Minority Leader, contracted an Expedition Strategies poll (3/5-8; sample size of Democratic voters not released) and found state Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) leading the group but with only 19% support. Mr. Ward closely followed with 17%, while former state Agriculture Department secretary Josh Svaty posts 7% preference.
The poll is flawed because former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who by all analysis is a major candidate, was not tested. Since both Ward and Brewer are from Wichita, there is no doubt that the former Mayor would cut into the poll sponsor’s support. There is a split in supporters, too. The last two Democratic Governors, Kathleen Sebelius, who would go onto become Health & Human Services Secretary in the Obama Administration, and John Carlin, who left office more than 30 years ago, support different Democratic candidates. Ms. Sebelius endorsed state Sen. Kelly. Mr. Carlin is backing former Ag Secretary Svaty.
Prominent oil businessman and former congressional candidate Wink Hartman (R) withdrew from the Republican gubernatorial primary yesterday and endorsed Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The two, and several others, are opposing new Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), who replaced former Gov. Sam Brownback (R) who accepted a federal appointment. Mr. Hartman said he is leaving the race in order to help avoid splitting the primary vote that would allow Gov. Colyer to win the nomination with only plurality support.
Jeff Colyer (R), recently sworn in as Governor after former incumbent Sam Brownback (R) was confirmed to his federal position, yesterday replaced himself as Lt. Governor. Mr. Colyer named businessman Tracey Mann (R) as the state’s new LG, and further announced that the latter man will join him on the Republican ticket as his running mate for the fall election. The pair must first clinch the GOP nomination in an August 7th campaign when they will face Secretary of State Kris Kobach, state Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, ex-state Sen. Jim Barnett, and oil businessman Wink Hartman among others. Democrats are looking to former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, ex-state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty, state House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita), or state Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka).
Democratic attorney Andrea Ramsey announced that she will end her quest to challenge Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) after a former male associate accused her of sexually harassing him over 12 years ago. This is the first instance of a female being accused and thwarting a political goal. Five Democratic challengers remain, including 2016 party nominee Jay Sidie who held Mr. Yoder to a 51-41% re-election victory.
Greg Orman was the Independent candidate who held Sen. Pat Roberts (R) to a 53-43% win in 2014. Since the Democrats did not file a candidate in that race, Mr. Orman became the de facto opposition nominee. Yesterday, the ex-Senatorial candidate announced that he is forming a gubernatorial committee, and will again run as an Independent.
While his presence was helpful to the Democrats in the 2014 Senate race, a liberal Independent is the last thing the party needs in the open Governor’s race from a strong Republican domain where the eventual Democratic nominee will make a clear effort to capture the seat. Six Democrats have declared their intention to run – candidate filing isn’t until June 1st, so much can still happen irrespective about what people say they are doing in the early going – including former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, ex-state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty, and state House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita).
Seven significant Republicans have announced, including Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and several former state legislators. Assuming Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is confirmed for the federal faith based position to which he has been nominated, Mr. Colyer will assume the Governorship, which will allow him to run as a quasi-incumbent.
Businessman Jay Sidie (D), who held four-term Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) to a 51-41% re-election victory last November, announced that he will run again next year. The closeness of the 2016 result, however, is likely more attributable to Hillary Clinton carrying the 3rd District than a particularly strong effort from Mr. Sidie. Though he is likely the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, he is nowhere close to being unopposed. Five other Democrats have already announced their own candidacies. The 3rd District is the most marginal in Kansas, but is still reliably Republican. Rep. Yoder is viewed as a potential gubernatorial candidate, but as time progresses it appears far more likely that the Congressman will seek re-election than run statewide.
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