Candidates Beat Filing Deadline In A Frenzy

By: Giang Nguyen Email
By: Giang Nguyen Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas new political landscape drawn by a federal court had Democrats and Republicans scrambling to file their candidacy for the November election.

By 7:30 a.m. Monday, the filing deadline, long lines of candidates, both newcomers to mainstream politics and longtime incumbents, had already formed.

The new district maps drawn by a U.S. District Court and issued late Thursday night created a more welcoming climate for new faces in politics.

"The line getting in here was more like the line getting into a Bon Jovi concert," Lee Modesitt said. Modesitt is not new to politics - he had run a campaign before.

He filed in January to challenge State Rep. Sydney Carlin in the 66th District. But after the new court-issued maps came down Thursday, he had to scramble.

"I woke up Friday to discover that I was on the West side of the [district] boundary now, the opposite side of the road. That led to a frantic search for a place to live, getting everything sorted out to getting up here to get refiled and back in my district," he said.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach said at least six candidates moved, over the weekend, to run in their desired district.

Sen. Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican, had also filed for another term in the 20th District in January, but came down to the Secretary of State's office just to be sure her paperwork was still in order.

If there was a feeling of confusion at Memorial Hall, there was also a sense of excitement.

One man came to witness the frenzy and decided within minutes, after he found out his district was without an incumbent, this was the time to run."

At noon, Kobach sounded the gavel indicating the filing deadline had closed.

"At last count, we had approximately 250 people file for the Kansas House of Representatives, approximately 100 filed for the Kansas Senate, 10 filed for Congress and 10 filed for the State Board of Education," Kobach said at a press conference at noon.

Though the number of people who filed is consistent with past experience, Kobach said, the secretary's office counted 116 candidates who filed for the Kansas House and 39 for Senate since Friday - in indication of new blood in this political season.

Every district had at least one candidate running, Kobach said, giving credit to the Republican and Democratic state parties for recruiting candidates in a short amount of time.

"It's a large lifestyle change, because the legislature work five months out of the year and they don't get paid a lot," Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said. "So it's very hard for someone to change their life overnight. But we targeted about 110 districts that we wanted to have a good solid Republican candidate in and we've gotten to about 115," he said.

On the Democratic side, party officials worked feverishly to seize the opportunities created with new districts and districts without incumbents.

"We spent the whole weekend on the telephone," Joan Wagon, Kansas Democratic Party Chair, said. Though the party was able to get candidates for the House file in about 100 districts and has the Senate districts covered, "we didn't fill all the open seats," she said with regret.

Nonetheless, she said this was an exciting time for the Democratic Party. "We've done best we can and the public responded and I think it's gonna be a great election," she said.

Among the notable races is the 2nd U.S. Congressional seat. Three Democrats will challenge Republican Lynn Jenkins: Scott Barnhardt, Robert Eye and Tobias Schlingensiepen.

The new maps moved Topeka Republican Lana Gordon from the 52nd to the 53rd District, along with fellow incumbents Democrat Annie Tietze and Republican Mike Burgess.

Gordon opted to retire, leaving Tietze and Burgess on the ballot.

Topeka City Councilman John Alcala will run as a Democrat for the newly configured 57th District Seat.

Republican Aimee Rosenow is his challenger.

In the 104th Distric, House Speaker Mike O'Neil is retiring. Republicans Steven Becker and Ken Willard are seeking that seat. Willard had served on the state board of education.

In the Kansas Senate, four people have filed for the 18th District seat.

Democrat Laura Kelly is the incumbent. She'll be challenged by three Republicans: former Shawnee County Sheriff Dick Barta, Cristina Fischer and Gary Parnell.

In the 20th District, Republican Vicki Schmidt faces a primary challenge from Representative Joe Patton.

Terry crowder is running for the Democrats.

For the complete candidate roster, visit http://www.sos.ks.gov/elections/elections_upcoming_candidate.asp


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