Archive for Election 2018

Kansas 3rd District Congressional candidates discuss issues at forum

About 500 people packed the sanctuary at Congregation Beth Torah Sunday to hear from six of the people running for the 3rd Congressional District seat in Kansas. Incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder did not attend. (Photo by Sam Zeff, KCUR, Kansas News Service)

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If you want to know how much interest there is in the race for Rep. Kevin Yoder’s congressional seat, you got a pretty good idea at a candidate forum Sunday afternoon.

Some 500 people packed the sanctuary at Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park to hear the five Democrats and one Libertarian running for Yoder’s seat.

Yoder, a Republican, was invited but didn’t attend.

His campaign spokesman, C.J. Grover, said the forum was hosted by “progressive activists” and that Yoder looks forward to debating the issues this fall with the winner of the Democratic primary.

Clearly, Democrats think Yoder is vulnerable in the district that encompasses Wyandotte and Johnson counties, including Overland Park, Lenexa, Shawnee, Spring Hill, DeSoto and Olathe.

Just last week, a fifth Democrat got into the race: Mike McCamon lives in Overland Park and has a technology background. He joined the race with labor attorney Brent Welder, investor Jay Sidie (who ran against Yoder two years ago), educator Tom Niermann, tech executive Chris Haulmark and Chris Clemmons, the Libertarian who is also an educator.

Many in the audience were wearing “Defeat Yoder” stickers, but there appeared to be an equal number of those uncommitted to his possible opponents.

“I think I lean towards several of them above the others, but overall I was impressed with the quality of what they said,” said George Halper from Overland Park.

“I took a lot of notes. I’m going to really get involved in getting to know better all the candidates,” Janet Powell said, although she said she was leaning toward Welder and Niermann.

There isn’t much daylight on the issues between any of the six men (and they’re all men at this point) on the stage Sunday. But in a series of lightening round questions from moderator Nick Haines of KCPT, the audience did see some differences.

The biggest threat to the United States (in the order they answered the question):
• Niermann—The environment and climate change.
• Welder—Getting rid of President Trump.
• Haulmark—Democracy and diversity.
• McCamon—More caring for our neighbors.
• Sidie—Too much corporate money in politics.
• Clemmons—Erosion of Fourth Amendment and other constitutional rights.

What to do about healthcare:
• Haulmark—Medicare for all.
• McCamon—Disconnect health care from employment.
• Clemmons—Do away with 20-year patents on pharmaceuticals which could lower drug prices.
• Welder—Medicare for all.
• Niermann—Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and restore Obamacare individual mandate.
• Sidie—Have a public health insurance option.

• Niermann—Allow Centers for Disease Control to study issue.
• Welder—Reimpose assault weapons ban.
• Sidie—Expose how much money the NRA gives to those in Congress.
• Haulmark—More complete background checks.
• Clemmons—Figure out why “society is sick.” He says people will figure out a way to kill.
• McCamon—Find a better way to keep guns away from criminals.

Sam Zeff is KCUR’s Metro Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.
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Here’s who’s snarfing up more money than Kobach in Kansas governor’s race

by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service

Campaign reports filed this week show a bunched field breaking from the starting gate in the Kansas race for governor.

Some handicappers’ favorites — notably Secretary of State Kris Kobach — trail at the rear of the pack. Still, only a few of the dozen candidates thought to hold potentially winning pedigrees appear in danger of fading fast.

Combined, nearly $6 million poured into the race before the state even rang in 2018 — or more than twice where fundraising stood at this point in the state’s last race for governor. The flood of money shows brisk betting on a contest likely to see competitive Republican and Democratic primaries — even as an independent candidate with heavy backing waits to take on the winners.

Crowded and competitive GOP field

The top seven Republican candidates raised more than $4.7 million, roughly half from loans that several made to their campaigns.

Kobach, the perceived front-runner, pulled in just under $355,000. That ranked sixth among the contenders. It led only the roughly $218,000 rounded up by Ed O’Malley, a former Kansas House member who took a leave from his post as CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center to campaign.

A conservative with high name recognition and two statewide election wins, Kobach doesn’t need as much early money as lesser-known candidates, said University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller.

“That being said, the headline today is going to be ‘Kobach underperforms expectations,’” Miller said. “That’s not good short-term, but it is only January.”

For O’Malley, Miller said, “it’s hard to find any silver lining” in his last-place finish. What’s more, he trails the other moderate Republican in the race by $350,000. That rival, Topeka doctor and former state senator Jim Barnett, is largely self-funding his campaign.

Miller regularly scours the reports and said Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former Kansas Rep. Mark Hutton posted stronger-than-expected fundraising.

“They both stand out,” he said.

Selzer logged more than $713,000, bolstered by $285,000 in personal contributions. Hutton, the founder of a Wichita-based construction company, donated $200,000 to raise his total to about $582,000.

The $632,000 raised by Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer ranked him among the top three in the Republican field, trailing only candidates who made substantial contributions to their own campaigns. In absolute terms, Colyer raised more money than any of the other candidates.

Wichita oilman Wink Hartman’s $1.8 million in contributions topped the Republican field, though $1.65 million of that came from his personal fortune.

Hartman, who lost a 2010 bid for Congress in the district that includes Wichita, said he intended to largely self-fund his campaign so that he wouldn’t be beholden to special interests.

“When we win this race, we’ll bring conservative business solutions to the Statehouse, not a list of policies sold to the highest bidder,” he said in a media release.

Separation in the Democratic field

Former Kansas Rep. Josh Svaty led the four contenders for the Democratic nomination with nearly $191,000.

But state Sen. Laura Kelly generated the most buzz by raising $155,000 between Dec. 15, when she announced her candidacy, and the Dec. 31 end of the reporting period.

“That’s pretty impressive,” Miller said, noting that the end of the year is one of the hardest times for candidates to raise money.

Kelly’s report includes contributions from former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and several of her supporters. That may suggest that at least some party leaders lacked confidence in Svaty, House Minority Leader Jim Ward and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.

The contribution numbers also suggest that, Miller said. Ward drew less than $91,000 and Brewer pulled in about $45,000.

In an interview, Ward insisted he’ll stay in the race until the August primary.

“It’s still wide open,” he said. “That’s the message that I think the reports tell you.”

Greg Orman, who lost a race for the U.S. Senate in 2014, is running as an independent in the governor’s race. He reported $453,000. Yet unlike the rest of the field, he can save much of his cash for the fall general election.

Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to

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Kelly jumps into Kansas governor’s race

Sen. Laura Kelly (File photo, Kansas News Service)

by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service

A crowded field of candidates running for governor in Kansas gained its first woman Friday with the entry of state Sen. Laura Kelly.

Kelly, 67, who has represented a Topeka district in the Kansas Senate since 2005, has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Sam Brownback. As the top Democrat on the Senate’s budget-writing committee, Kelly has been particularly critical of the income tax cuts that Brownback said would revitalize the Kansas economy, which instead sent state revenues plummeting and triggered years of budget instability.

“I have watched the Brownback folks totally mismanage the state for the last seven years, and I can’t stay on the sidelines and let Brownback-like folks lead for the next four years,” Kelly said, referencing some candidates in the Republican field, which includes conservatives Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

The 2017 Legislature repealed most of the Brownback tax cuts. But Kobach, whom many view as the front-runner for the GOP nomination, has said he would attempt to reinstate them if elected.

As the top Democrat on the joint legislative committee that oversees KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, Kelly recently announced her opposition to a Brownback administration plan to renew it for another five years. Doing so would unfairly saddle the next governor with a program that continues to generate complaints from providers and patients about increased red tape and reductions in services, she said.

“We have lots and lots of KanCare recipients or their guardians coming to us with concerns about services that they need but are not getting,” she said.

Kelly is the fourth candidate to enter the race for the Democratic nomination, joining House Minority Leader Jim Ward, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and former state Rep. Josh Svaty.

Svaty, who also headed the Kansas Department of Agriculture under former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, welcomed Kelly to the race but said he would be a better statewide candidate.

“This doesn’t change the ultimate objective for Kansas Democrats, which is to identify the best nominee who can defeat Kris Kobach next November,” Svaty said in a prepared statement issued as the news of Kelly’s candidacy was breaking. “I am the only Democrat that can win votes in every corner of this state.”

Weighing in on Twitter, University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller said Svaty’s appeal in rural areas of the state could help him in the Democratic primary but that Kelly is potentially the stronger general election candidate. Though, he said the recent entry of independent Greg Orman lessens the chance that any Democrat could win.

In addition to Kobach and Colyer, the crowded field for the GOP nomination includes former Kansas House members Ed O’Malley and Mark Hutton, former state Sen. Jim Barnett, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and Wichita businessman Wink Hartman.

Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to

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