State Capitol of Kansas in Topeka.
State Capitol of Kansas in Topeka.

Kansas 2018 Election Preview

Kansas’ 2018 election season is officially underway as the filing deadline for statewide offices, congressional seats, and Kansas House of Representative seats ended on June 1.

Primary elections for Democrats and Republicans is scheduled for Aug. 7, 2018 with the general election scheduled for Nov. 6, 2018. The primary election always plays a very significant role in Kansas, particularly with the Republican dominated races.

This election season will feature several notable showdowns which will have major impacts in the shape of the 2019-2020 Legislature.

The race receiving the most attention though is the Governor’s race. Gov. Colyer is seeking election for his own four-year term, but not without several hurdles.

The crowded Republican primary for the Governor’s office has narrowed since January, but still features a face-off with Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, and former state Senator Dr. Jim Barnett.

The Democratic primary election is also hotly contested with state Senator Laura Kelly, former Secretary of Agriculture Josh Svaty, and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.

Greg Orman adds an interesting twist as an Independent candidate that will enter the general election. Orman ran unsuccessfully against Senator Pat Roberts four years ago.

There are not as many surprises in the Kansas House. House Speaker Pro-Tem Scott Schwab will not seek re-election and will instead run for Kansas Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State race is a crowded one, with five Republicans and one Democrat seeking the office.

Representative Keith Esau is one of the challengers, which will vacate his House seat. All remaining House leadership members, including Speaker Ron Ryckman, House Majority Leader Don Hineman, and House Minority Leader Jim Ward have filed for re-election.

Of the 125 current House members, 111 plan to seek re-election – 14 are not. 48 seats have only one candidate, which means their seat is essentially locked in with no contest.

Congressmen Kevin Yoder, Ron Estes, and Roger Marshall are seeking re-election. Congressman Yoder will face two primary challengers with six Democrats pursuing the seat.

Congressmen Estes and Marshall both have primary and general election challenges. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins opted to give up politics, creating a vacuum for her open seat.

Paul Davis is considered the front-runner on the Democrat side and will challenge a Republican that makes it through a very crowded primary race. Two state senators – Caryn Tyson and Steve Fitzgerald – are in the race against current Kansas House member Kevin Jones, lobbyist/former legislator Doug Mayes, and three other businessmen.

The Kansas Insurance Commissioner race will feature current Assistant Insurance Commissioner Clark Schultz against current state Senator Vicki Schmidt. The winner will go on to face Nathaniel McLaughlin in the general election.

The Kansas State Treasurer race will see current Treasurer Jake LaTurner against state Senator Marci Francisco.

At this point, it is unclear if the changes will translate to any major shifts in legislative leadership.  The general election in November will offer more insight as seats are secured. Legislative leadership from both parties will be elected in early to mid-December.

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