Now it starts to get real. Tuesdays primary, and the early voting that wraps up at noon on Monday, could begin to clarify what direction Kansas politics will head after the Sam Brownback era. To the right, to the left or anchored in the middle.
Party voters will choose who best represents them in the race for governor and other statewide offices, and sort out crowded fields for Congress in a few seats that, at least potentially, might swing red seats to blue in the first mid-term election with President Donald Trump in office. The general election will decide things for sure in November, but the primary sets the stage of possibilities.
Below youll find a quick skim of what the primary voting will decide on the Kansas side of the metro area.
Brownback won the office twice after winning earlier statewide elections to the U.S. Senate and still managed to leave for a Trump ambassadorship as one of the least popular governors in the country. Now Gov. Jeff Colyer, who served as Brownbacks lieutenant governor and helped bankroll those campaigns, is running to stay in office.
Colyers political style is less bold than the man he succeeded, but his policies toe a similar conservative line. Polls suggest he could be trailing equally conservative Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who draws strong supporters and detractors for his crusade against illegal immigration and his court-rejected claims of widespread voter fraud.
Two other seasoned Kansas politicians former state senator Jim Barnett and state Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer have raised less money. Still, theyve brought in enough cash to raise their profiles and become potential dark horses.
The Kansas governors office is one of a few statewide posts Democrats have been able to snag in the 21st century. Theyre hoping an anti-Brownback or anti-Trump wave might put it in reach again this year.
Laura Kelly, a leader in the Kansas Senate, drew enthusiasm from some party regulars when she got in the race. Josh Svaty, a former state lawmaker and agriculture secretary, has billed himself as the candidate who can appeal in rural areas. Carl Brewer is the former mayor of Wichita, and figures to have some base of support in the states largest city.
For ten years, Democrat Dennis Moore held Kansas 3rd Congressional District seat by telling voters he was a moderate even as Republicans complained he was liberal. Republican Kevin Yoder succeeded him and has also often campaigned as a moderate to howls from Democrats that hes too conservative for the district that covers Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
Now national Democrats see a chance to win back the seat even after redistricting, the district is not cinch for Republicans and candidates have lined up to take him on.
He faces token opposition in his primary, but the Democratic field is crowded: Sharice Davids, a lawyer who would be the first openly LGBT person to represent Kansas and the first Native American woman in Congress; Tom Niermann, a high school history teacher; Jay Sidie, a market analyst who ran a lackluster campaign as his partys nominee against Yoder in 2016; Brent Welder, a lawyer and self-described Democratic socialist who drew U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to campaign for him; Sylvia Williams, a bank managing director; and Mike McCamon, a former tech executive.
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