Speculation grows on who Kansas Democrats will put forth to challenge Gov. Brownback in 2014

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August 6, 2013

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

By Greg Janetka

TOPEKA, Kansas: Who will emerge from the Democratic ranks to take on incumbent Governor Sam Brownback in 2014? That's the question currently being bandied around in a state where Republicans dominate the political landscape.

Gov. Sam Brownback took office 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.[2]

The most prominent Democratic name in the headlines at the moment is State House Minority Leader Paul Davis. For his own part, Davis has refused to say whether he may run. Spokeswoman for Davis, Haley Pollock, also declined to comment on the rumors, instead issuing a statement, saying, "Kansans deserve an opportunity to choose a new direction for our state in the next election, and I am certain that a competitive opponent against Sam Brownback will emerge in the coming months."[3]

Two other prominent names of late include businesswoman Jill Docking and former state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty. Docking, a former state Board of Regents member and wife of former Lt. Gov. Thomas Docking, declined to comment. She is also the daughter-in-law and granddaughter-in-law of former Kansas governors. Docking lost to Brownback in the 1996 race for U.S. Senate.[3]

Svaty, meanwhile, said recently that he's "not even thinking about" running for governor, saying he is fully committed to his position as a vice president for the Salina-based Land Institute. That, however, hasn't stopped his name from being put at the top of potential candidate lists. Svaty was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2002, serving until his appointment as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture by Gov. Mark Parkinson in 2009. He remained in that role until Brownback assumed office in January 2011.[4]

In addition to the governor's race, Kansas voters will head to the polls to elect five other state executive positions in 2014: lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and insurance commissioner. All six positions are currently held by Republicans.

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