Dark money TV ad draws Democrats’ comments

Today some candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd District, spoke out against dark money going into a television ad that criticizes candidate Brent Welder.

What irked the Democratic candidates was an ad from a group called “Ending Spending, Inc.” that is running a TV ad critical of Welder, saying he is “too progressive.” Almost $160,000 was spent on the TV ad, and it was traced to a political action committee that received contributions from Joe Ricketts, a billionaire who backed Donald Trump, according to the Democrats.

Democratic candidates Sharice Davids and Tom Niermann issued a statement on the dark money ad:

“Kevin Yoder and the Republicans are clearly worried about his re-election. Yoder decided a long time ago to vote with party leaders instead of his community, counting on billionaires to bail out his campaign when he faces tough challengers, as he does now. He has now gone yet another bridge too far – calling in Republican dark money to elevate an opponent of his choosing, rather than answer to his constituents for his egregious votes. We condemn Republicans’ undemocratic meddling in the Democratic primary, and urge 3rd District voters not to fall for Kevin Yoder’s continued schemes.”

Shawn Borich, the campaign manager for Brent Welder, the target of the dark money ad, stated, “Brent Welder is the only Democrat beating Congressman Yoder in public polling and has raised more money than any Democratic challenger in the history of our district. Brent is proud to have worked for President Barack Obama who took on the Wall Street bankers behind this Super PAC.”

Candidate Sylvia Williams’ statement: “All the candidates in this race have pledged publicly to not take third party outside money in the primary. My campaign has stood by our commitment to the voters. I have concerns about the amount of outside money flowing into this race to influence the outcome of the primary election. Anything you see about my campaign that has my name on it has been paid for by the Sylvia Williams for Congress campaign. “

From Mike McCamon, a Democratic candidate: “Everyone tells me they’re tired of the money in politics. Working families know that hard work gets the best results and I was disappointed to hear rich people outside of Kansas are trying to buy our election.”

“It’s obvious that Kevin Yoder and the Republicans are worried about this election, and I think they should be, because this is an election where they’re facing a pretty significant challenge,” said Tom Niermann, who is running for the 3rd District seat. In this instance, Yoder has gone too far, Niermann said.

The primary election is Aug. 7.

KCK man running for insurance commissioner

Nathaniel McLaughlin is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state insurance commissioner. He is the only Democrat running for the office. He campaigned last Sunday at the opening of the Wyandotte County Democrats campaign office at 7843 Parallel Parkway. (Staff photo)

Nathaniel McLaughlin is running for the Democratic nomination for state insurance commissioner.

McLaughlin, from Kansas City, Kansas, is the only Democratic candidate for the insurance commissioner office. Two Republicans, Clark Shultz of Lindsborg and Vicki Schmidt of Topeka, are running in the primary on Aug. 7 (see http://wyandottedaily.com/the-overlooked-power-spots-on-the-ballot-in-kansas-on-tuesday/ for more information about the Republican candidates).

Although the campaign will not get too busy until closer to the general election in November, McLauglin has been making campaign appearances recently.

“My intent is to still be visible to the voters,” McLaughlin said. “When anybody’s hired, they need to make themselves visible.”

McLaughlin, a retired health care executive, said this campaign will be on the issues, and the candidates have agreed to stick to discussing issues.

He said his top issue will be to advocate for the thousands of people in the state who do not have health insurance.

Access to affordable health care for everyone is an important issue to him. McLaughlin would be an advocate of leveling the playing field in the insurance marketplace for all kinds of insurance to be affordable and to meet the needs of policyholders.

McLaughlin, who is retired, in 1980 started working with the Marriott Management Company, then it was merged with Sodexo Healthcare Services, where he managed a $33 million health care business in a seven-state area.

A past president of the Kansas City, Kansas, NAACP and the Kansas State NAACP, McLaughlin also has served as chairman of the Wyandotte County Black Democrats Caucus. From 2005 to 2011 he was a commissioner on the Kansas City, Kansas, Housing Authority Board.

McLaughlin has a Bachelor of Science degree from Winston-Salem (North Carolina) State University, with additional college studies at Wake Forest University.

In 2018, he originally was interested in running for secretary of state, then changed to the insurance commissioner contest. In 2016, McLaughlin ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd District, and Jay Sidie won the primary contest.

More information is at his campaign website, https://nathanielforkansas.com/.

The overlooked power spots on the ballot in Kansas on Tuesday

All four of Kansas’ statewide offices are up for election this year, leading to a pair of contested primaries and more competition in the November general election. (Madeline Fox, Kansas News Service)

by Madeline Fox, Kansas News Service

All four of Kansas’ statewide offices are up for election this year, leading to a pair of contested primaries and more competition in the November general election. (Madeline Fox, Kansas News Service)

The fact that seemingly everyone and his wife are gunning for the Kansas political major league, the governor’s office, has opened up all four spots in state’s lesser statewide offices.

The other four statewide elected offices in Kansas — attorney general, insurance commissioner, treasurer and secretary of state — are up for grabs. Only one incumbent who’s previously been elected to his current office is running this time around.

All four offices also have both Republican and Democratic candidates, not always a given in Republican-leaning Kansas.

The secretary of state and insurance commissioner, both without incumbents as those offices’ current occupants vie for the highest office, have contested Republican primaries. Sitting attorney general Derek Schmidt doesn’t have a challenge until the general election, while state Treasurer Jake LaTurner is angling to win the office outright after being appointed by then-Gov. Sam Brownback last year.

On Tuesday, the primary offers the first real test of campaign season.

Secretary of state

The secretary of state is Kansas’ top election official. The office runs elections and voter registration and helps regulate lobbying and campaign finance.

In 2015, Kobach won added power, making Kansas the only state where a secretary of state can take legal action against fraudulent voters. The secretary also oversees a range of business entities and operations, from registering trademarks to regulating funeral homes.

With Kobach moving on, five Republicans are running against each other to face the lone Democrat in the race. This story from Celia Llopis-Jepsen outlines the GOP candidates — Scott Schwab, Dennis Taylor, Keith Esau, Craig McCullah and Randy Duncan — and their experience. Former tech executive Brian McClendon, who put Kansas at the center of Google Earth, is the Democrat.

The office hasn’t gone to a Democrat since 1949. Left-leaning Kansans are hoping a combination of the outgoing Kobach’s unpopularity with some voters and energy behind Democratic campaigns nationally and locally might help McClendon break that streak.

McClendon comes with a lot of financial firepower. He contributed a little more than a quarter of the $509,000 his campaign has raised so far, and was able to draw on wealthy donors from Silicon Valley to help fill out the rest.

Insurance commissioner

Kansas’ chief insurance officer regulates and reviews insurance companies in the state, licenses insurance agents, and helps consumers navigate the insurance marketplace. The insurance commissioner’s ability to go after insurance companies who violate Kansas laws about what they can cover helped thrust it to “the top of (Kansans for Life’s) cards,” said Mary Kay Culp, the anti-abortion group’s executive director.

Current assistant insurance commissioner Clark Shultz, who lost the top job to Ken Selzer in 2014, is trying again. His campaign website says he’s a “Kansas conservative to his roots.” Culp said her organization appreciated Shultz going after insurance companies that paid for abortion-related services. Private insurers are not permitted to cover abortions under their comprehensive health plans in Kansas unless the mother’s life is in danger. Shultz, in a campaign radio ad, played up his anti-abortion bona fides.

What has been perhaps the biggest factor putting the insurance commissioner’s race in Kansans for Life’s crosshairs, though, is Shultz’s opponent. Vicki Schmidt is a moderate Republican senator from Topeka who chairs several Senate committees, including Public Health and Welfare and the Child Welfare System Task Force.

One of her votes as a senator particularly rubbed Culp and Kansans for Life the wrong way — in 2015, Schmidt was the only Republican senator to vote against a bill banning dilation and evacuation abortions, the most common procedure for second trimester abortions.

Schmidt is touting her 40 years of health care experience as a practicing pharmacist, as well as her legislative work to expand Medicaid, in TV ads.

Both Schmidt and Shultz have emphasized the importance of bringing more insurance companies to Kansas, to give consumers more options and make prices more competitive. When Selzer was sworn in in 2015, he also said he wanted to attract more insurers to the state.

In recent years, the office of the insurance commissioner has been a springboard to higher office. Kathleen Sebelius served two terms as insurance commissioner before taking over as governor in 2003.

Attorney general

Current attorney general Derek Schmidt is the lone Republican candidate to be Kansas’ top lawyer, after performance artist Vermin Supreme’s candidacy was quashed by the State Elections Board.

Schmidt was elected attorney general in 2010. His two terms have been dominated by the Kansas Supreme Court case over whether the state is adequately and equitably funding its schools. The attorney general is responsible for arguing on behalf of whatever school funding formula the Legislature passes.

Schmidt has called for putting a constitutional amendment to keep the courts out of school funding to a public vote.

His Democratic challenger is Lawrence attorney Sarah Swain, though she lost her party’s support over a poster in her law office depicting Wonder Woman with a lasso around a police officer’s neck. Swain told KSHB-TV that the poster shows a superhero “using the lasso to force the truth from the mouth of a police officer, a metaphor for the rigors of cross-examination.” She said it was misconstrued by the Kansas State Trooper Association and others who called for her to withdraw from the race.

The attorney general’s office oversees the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, handles compensation for crime victims, facilitates the Child Death Review Board, and otherwise investigates and litigates on behalf of the state.

Treasurer

Jake LaTurner took over as treasurer last year after Rep. Ron Estes (not to be confused with Ron M. Estes) was elected to fill Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 4th District seat.

Both LaTurner and his Democratic opponent, Marci Francisco, get to skip the primaries, as both are running unopposed to represent their parties.

Before Brownback tapped LaTurner for treasurer, the former aide to retiring U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins was considered a frontrunner to replace her. Without him, though, the 2nd District isn’t wanting for Republican candidates — seven Republicans are lining up to face Democrat Paul Davis in the general election.

As a state senator from southeast Kansas, LaTurner was an outspoken advocate for improvements to U.S. Highway 69, which connects southeast Kansas to Kansas City.

The Kansas Department of Transportation was scheduled to expand the 20-mile stretch of U.S. 69 between Pittsburg and Fort Scott to four lanes with a median in 2016, but it was one of many projects delayed later that year as highway funds were used to balance the budget. After Turner’s objections, including an open letter to Brownback, a portion of the expansion was restored.

As he gears up for his first statewide election, LaTurner is highlighting his increased social media outreach as treasurer, and his efforts to connect the more than $6.9 million in unclaimed property in the treasurer’s office with the Kansans it belongs to.

Francisco, too, would come to the treasurer’s office from the state senate. She’s served in the Legislature since 2005, representing a district that covers part of Lawrence and points north. She’s also a former mayor of Lawrence.

Francisco had planned to run for secretary of state, forming a campaign committee in mid-December before switching to the treasurer’s race in May at the request of the Kansas Democratic Party.

Francisco has also highlighted the importance of the unclaimed property program, and suggested that the office add an option for Kansans to donate their unclaimed property to charity.

The Kansas state treasurer is custodian of Kansas’ cash, handles municipal bonds, and otherwise helps the state operate by handling its banking, investing, and cash management.

Note: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong office for Jake LaTurner.
Madeline Fox is a reporter for 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 her on Twitter @maddycfox.
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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