Believing their chances for gaining more political strength in the Jayhawk State are improving, Democrats see yet another candidate coming forward to declare for the Governor’s race. State House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D) announced that he will join the Governor’s campaign. He faces former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and ex-state Agriculture Department Secretary Josh Svaty in the Democratic primary. A large number of Republicans are vying for the party nomination, including soon-to-be-Governor Jeff Colyer. All are battling to replace outgoing Governor Sam Brownback (R) who will resign upon confirmation for his recent federal appointment.
Former state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D-Topeka) announced yesterday that he will enter the 2018 open seat primary for the seat that retiring GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) is relinquishing. Mr. Davis was the party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2014, losing a 50-46% race to Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Though the 2nd CD is Republican in nature, a Democrat could have a chance under the right circumstances. In 2006, Democrat Nancy Boyda upset veteran GOP Rep. Jim Ryun, but would then lose to Ms. Jenkins two years later. So far, on the Republican side, state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth) and Bashor City Councilman Vernon Fields have announced their candidacies. Attorney General Derek Schmidt, however, remains a potential GOP candidate.
Former state House Minority Leader and 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis, who lost to incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback (R), 50-46%, is inviting supporters to a special announcement event next Tuesday. Mr. Davis just completed a “four month listening tour” of the 2nd Congressional District, and promises to unveil another “exciting journey” next Tuesday. It is a virtual certainty that Mr. Davis will enter the open congressional race that is anchored in the capital city of Topeka and includes the Kansas University campus. This Davis candidacy will give the Democrats a credible nominee in the battle to succeed retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka), but he will remain the underdog in the reliably Republican seat. President Trump scored a 56-37% victory over Hillary Clinton here last November.
Incoming Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer (R), who as Lt. Governor will succeed incumbent Sam Brownback (R) when the latter accepts his federal appointment, yesterday announced his bid for a full term in 2018. With other statewide officials such as Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer entering the race, the Governor-to-be has stepped up to make his own political plans known. Mr. Colyer will have the obvious advantage of being the incumbent Governor for at least a year.
In a further sign that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) soon becoming Governor when incumbent Sam Brownback (R) accepts his federal appointment is not tempering the desires of other Republicans, state Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer declared his gubernatorial candidacy yesterday. Also in the race are Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and former state legislators Jim Barnett and Ed O’Malley, along with prominent oil businessman Wink Hartman. Mr. Colyer is expected to seek a full term next year once he takes office. For the Democrats, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and ex-Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty are the leading candidates.
Before the announcement that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) would become the US Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom, several Republicans had declared for what, at the time, was an open seat. Upon confirmation to his federal position, Gov. Brownback will resign and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will ascend to the Governorship. Though Mr. Colyer had not yet announced his gubernatorial campaign, it is presumed that he will become a candidate.
Now, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, prominent oil businessman Wink Hartman, former state Sen. Jim Barnett, and former state Rep. Ed O’Malley, all active GOP gubernatorial candidates, must make a decision about presumably running against a new incumbent. According to Secretary Kobach, who is Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, believes Mr. Colyer becoming Governor does not “fundamentally change the dynamic of the 2018 race.”
Mr. Colyer will become the fourth Lt. Governor to ascend to the Governorship since the beginning of this year. He will join Henry McMaster (R-SC), Kim Reynolds (R-IA), and Kay Ivey (R-AL), all who have previously taken over their respective top state job.
Four-term US Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park/ Kansas City) faced a competitive 3rd District re-election campaign last year, a challenge he won 51-41% even while Hillary Clinton topped President Trump by a percentage point in his metro Kansas City congressional district. Since the election, speculation has surfaced that Mr. Yoder would enter the crowded open Governor’s race. This weekend, reports coming from individuals close to Yoder claim the Congressman rates himself as a 50/50 chance to still run for Governor.
Republicans already vying to replace term-limited Gov. Sam Brownback (R) are Secretary of State Kris Kobach, businessman Wink Hartman, and former state Rep. Ed O’Malley, with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) expected to soon announce his gubernatorial candidacy. Therefore, should Mr. Yoder run, his path even to the GOP nomination appears a difficult one.
Former state Senator and 2006 failed gubernatorial nominee Jim Barnett (R) announced his statewide candidacy for Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) open seat. Eleven years ago, Mr. Barnett lost to then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) by a landslide 58-40% result.
The 2018 Kansas Republican primary is expected to draw major contenders. Already in the contest are Secretary of State Kris Kobach, energy businessman and former congressional candidate Wink Hartman, and former state Rep. Ed O’Malley. Expected to join is Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and possibly Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Mr. Barnett is trying to separate himself from the field by hitting Gov. Brownback for his state budget policies, thus trying to capture moderate Republicans and win a split vote among multiple candidates. Kansas does not use a run-off nomination system, so obtaining a primary plurality is sufficient for victory. Gov. Brownback is ineligible to seek a third term.
Already, two Democrats have announced their candidacies against Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) in the politically marginal Kansas City-anchored district: 2016 nominee Jay Sidie and Iraq War veteran Joe McConnell. This week, children’s healthcare clinic attorney Andrea Ramsey joined the Democratic field. Mr. Sidie held Rep. Yoder to a 51-41% re-election margin, but Hillary Clinton actually carried the district 47-46% over President Trump, thus giving Democrats some hope of flipping the seat in 2018. Mr. Yoder was first elected in 2010, after Democrats held the largely metropolitan seat for six terms in the person of former Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kansas City).
Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) announced his gubernatorial campaign yesterday. The complicating factor for this open seat campaign are the rumors, though now subdued but still present, that Gov. Sam Brownback (R) could get a federal appointment from President Trump. Such would mean Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) would automatically ascend to the Governorship. Clearly, such a development would complicate the ensuing gubernatorial race and likely puts the real campaign on hold until the Brownback situation is resolved, one way or the other.
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