Setting the stage for the election

Even though the Legislature met for only part of one day last week—to declare their business done while leaving it decidedly undone—we had a full week of big news. Between the transgender discrimination resolution, $70 million of missed revenue, and the looming shadow of an unconstitutional school funding plan, one columnist called it a "Full Kansas Meltdown."

But there was one more item of Kansas political news last week. Wednesday was the deadline for filing to run for the Kansas Legislature. It was a very busy day at the Secretary of State's office, as candidates handed in a flurry of filings and resignations. Some who were sure to run, are not, having decided to retire. One race has six contenders! Many have hand-picked successors.

34 retirements could shift Legislature moderate

Our incumbent vote count is sill warm from the printer, and already there are significant differences between it and who might be representing us in the next session. 20% of sitting legislators will not run for their seats this year, 26 Representatives, and 8 Senators. That's thirty-four legislators! Seven of those are House members who have decided to run for Senate seats, instead.

Who are they, and is this shift good for moderate causes?

  • 8 retirees scored 0% agreement with moderate values on MainStream's voting scorecard: Goico, Hedke, Hutchins, Merrick, Peck, Read, Rubin, and Suellentrop. Peck and Suellentrop are running for Senate seats, however.
  • 10 scored less than 50% but more than zero: Billinger 33%, Estes 14%, Ewy 43%, Gonzalez 38%, Hutton 14%, D. Jones 20%, Kahrs 14%, Mast 13%, Ryckman Sr. 13%, and Schwartz 29%. Billinger and Estes are running for Senate.
  • 2 scored above 50% but not 100%: Doll 86%, and Henry 86%. Both are running for Senate.
  • 5 scored 100% on the scorecard, and will be a loss: Bollier, Hill, Houston, Moxley, and Tietze. Bollier is the only one running for Senate.

So, before even holding elections, we are retiring 18 who disagree with moderate policies, and seven who favor them. That seems good for moderate values. Seven of those retirements are running for Senate seats, and only two of those Senate races have incumbents, both of whom scored 0%. At the very least, we will see the retirement of fourteen anti-moderate incumbents, perhaps more.

39 uncontested races could shift Legislature moderate

Of 165 eats in the Legislature, thirty-nine have uncontested races. For those seats, there is no primary, and no opponent in the general election. Twenty-one of those "races" feature a Democrat, eighteen have a Republican. But of those eighteen Republicans, eight score better than 50% on our scorecard: Clark 75%, Concannon 67%, Finch 57%, Francis 60%, Hineman 75%, Jennings 57%, Phillips 86%, and Schroeder 88%. In uncontested races, 29 are moderate supporters, and only ten are opponents of moderate values. Again, this seems to favor a moderate shift.

67 primaries on August 2nd could shift legislature moderate

That leaves 126 races to be contested, many of those in primaries, too. Here are the details:

  • 61 seats have no primary, there is only one Democrat and one Republican, vying for the general election in November
  • 65 seats remain with primary races
  • 3 of those seats have primaries on both sides of the ticket, and all three are Senate seats
  • 16 primaries have no opponent on the other side, so the primary is the only chance to choose a legislator. Of those, 14 are Republican only primaries. Only two involve only Democrats. In 14 races this year, Democrats in those districts will have no say in who represents them, as they are barred from voting in the Republican primary.
  • There are 13 Democratic primaries, out of 126 races
  • There are 54 Republican primaries, out of 126 races

What does it all mean?

Is your head spinning? The numbers can be confusing, with uncontested races, races with six candidates (there is one!) and so many primaries. What does it all mean? Let us break it down for you.

  • 165 seats are available this year in the Kansas Legislature: 40 Senate, 125 House
  • 126 seats are contested: 36 Senate, 90 House
  • 67 of those seats have contested primaries: 18 Senate, 47 House
  • 54 of those contested primaries involve Republicans
  • Of those, many have a moderate running against an extremist

That means there are as many as 54 opportunities to return sanity to the Kansas Legislature. We will know more when we start to hear about these candidates and what they stand for. And we will break down the numbers a little bit more then, to give you a sense of what might happen in August and November.

But until then, we need you to do more than vote. We need you to lay the groundwork, to step up, to make a difference in as many of these races as possible.

Thank you.

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