A look ahead at 2014 state executive elections in Kansas

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July 12, 2013


By Greg Janetka

TOPEKA, Kansas: In 2014, Kansas voters will head to the polls to elect six state executive positions: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and insurance commissioner.

So far there has been little action in these races. All six positions are currently held by Republicans, who also dominate the state legislature.

Here's a preview of the offices up for election:


Incumbent Sam Brownback took office as governor in 2011. He previously served in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Brownback as the 12th most conservative governor in the country.[1] Brownback is eligible for re-election, and is running for a second term as Governor of Kansas in the 2014 elections. The general election took place November 4, 2014.[2]

Possible Democratic candidates include State House Minority Leader Paul Davis, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, Kansas City Mayor Joe Reardon, and Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor.[3]

Lieutenant Governor

Jeff Colyer, a former state legislator, took office as lieutenant governor in 2011. He is eligible for re-election but has yet to make his intentions known.

Secretary of State

Kris Kobach has been a controversial figure since taking office in 2011. He has been called an "American hero," as well as “America’s Deporter-in-Chief,” an “anti-immigration hawk,” and a “nativist” lawyer for his ubiquitous role in the nation-sweeping campaign for immigration reform.[4] In early October 2012, activists targeted Kobach for recall for his work on immigration issues, which regularly takes him out of state, as well as his support for the state's voter photo ID law.[5]

No major recall campaign came to pass, but Democratic legislative leaders did attempt to limit Kobach's power as Secretary of State during the 2013 session. With Republicans dominating both chambers, however, no major changes came from it.[6]

Thus far one Democratic candidate, businessman Randy Rolston, has declared for the race. Former State Senator Jean Schodorf has also been rumored as a possible candidate.

Attorney General

Elected in 2010, attorney general Derek Schmidt previously spent ten years in the state legislature, five of which he served as Senate Majority Leader. Soon after winning the contest he announced that he expected "to bring the state into a legal challenge to the new federal health care law soon after taking office."[7]

Indeed, two days after being inaugurated, Schmidt requested that Kansas be allowed to join the 20 states that originally brought the lawsuit against the federal government over the health care reform law.[8]

He has yet to say if he will seek re-election.

State Treasurer

Ron Estes took office as Kansas State Treasurer in 2011. Prior to winning election as treasurer, Estes served six years as Sedgwick County Treasurer. He has yet to say if he will seek re-election.[9]

Commissioner of Insurance

Sandy Praeger, the only official up for election in 2014 who has served more than one term, took office as commissioner of insurance in 2003. She previously served in the Kansas State Senate from 1992-2002, was Mayor of Lawrence from 1986-1987, and a member of the Lawrence City Commission from 1985-1989.[9]

Elected unopposed in 2010, Praeger said she plans to retire when her term is up in 2014. A moderate Republican, she has decried the GOP for failing to keep promises on education funding and has accusing the party of "hate-mongering," calling it out for anti-immigration rhetoric. "It would be hard to run again as a Republican, I will say that. It would be very hard. I don’t subscribe to most of the Republican dogma right now,” she stated.[10]

At least four candidates are considering a run for the office - activist and businesswoman Beverly Gossage, 2010 candidate David Powell, accountant Ken Selzer, and state Rep. Clark Shultz.[3]

See also

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