Politics & Government

Who’s running for Kansas governor? An up-to-date guide

By Jonathan Shorman


June 21, 2017 07:09 PM

The 2018 campaign for Kansas governor is producing a large field of candidates.

The number of candidates keeps increasing, ensuring competitive contests for both the Republican and Democratic nomination.

Candidates face their first big test this fall as they try to raise money. They are competing for a limited pool of large donors and that may eventually force out some hopefuls.

For now, the candidates continue to jockey for position.

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Here are candidates from both parties, as well as the names of those thought to be considering a run. This page will be updated as candidates enter and drop out of the race.

Democratic candidates

Arden Andersen

Position: Olathe physician

Past: Air Force Reserve Colnel

Education: College Of Osteo Of The Pacific

Website: http://andersen2018.com/

Andersen says universal healthcare is inevitable and that a prosperous economy does not need to compromise the environment.

Carl Brewer

Carl Brewer

Position: Recently retired from government relations position with Spirit AeroSystems

Past: Mayor of Wichita, 2007-2015

Education: Friends University

Website: www.brewerforkansas.com

Brewer was the first Democrat to enter the race, on Feb. 20. He is critical of the past management of the state and has said state services are under financial stress.

He has promised a community activist campaign.

Josh Svaty

Joshua Svaty

Position: Farmer

Past: State secretary of agriculture, 2009-2011; Kansas House, 2003-2009

Education: Sterling College, Washburn University

Website: https://joshuasvaty.com/

Svaty entered the race May 16. He became the second Democrat to jump in, triggering the first contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in Kansas in two decades.

His anti-abortion voting record in the Kansas House could prompt questions in the Democratic primary. He has said he thinks the focus of the race should remain on the state’s finances, schools and quality-of-life issues.

In addition to serving in state government, Svaty has worked as a senior adviser in the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jim Ward

Position: House Democratic leader; House member since 2003

Past: State Senate, 1991-1993

Education: Creighton University, Washburn University

Website: https://kansasforward.com/

Ward, a former Sedgwick County assistant district attorney, has developed a reputation as an aggressive debater and has been stinging in his criticism of Brownback and conservative Republicans.

Last year, he rose to the position of House Democratic leader after ousting the sitting leader, Rep. Tom Burroughs of Kansas City, in legislative leadership elections.

Also running:

Jack Bergeson, The Independent School student

Robert Klingenberg, Salina salesman

Republican candidates

Jim Barnett

Jim Barnett

Position: Physician, president of the Shawnee County Medical Society

Past: State Senate, 2001-2010; ran for governor in 2006

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Emporia State University, 1976; M.D., University of Kansas, 1979

Website: www.barnettforkansas.com/

Barnett formally announced his candidacy on June 20. He advocates for restoring funding diverted from the Kansas Department of Transportation and has endorsed the Legislature’s actions to stabilize the state budget.

He is framing his campaign around a message of unity under the label “One Kansas agenda.”

Barnett practices medicine in Topeka.

He won the Republican nomination for governor in 2006, beating Ken Canfield in the primary, before losing to incumbent Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, in the general election.

Jeff Colyer

Position: Lieutenant governor since 2011, plastic surgeon

Past: Kansas House, 2007-2009; Kansas Senate, 2009-2011

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, Georgetown University; master’s degree in international relations, Cambridge University; medical degree, University of Kansas

Colyer announced Aug. 8 that he would run. As lieutenant governor, he was in charge of the launch of KanCare, the state’s managed care program for Medicaid.

If Brownback leaves before his term is up as expected – he has been nominated for a position in the Trump Administration – Colyer would become governor and have time to define for voters how he would perform the role.

Wink Hartman

Wink Hartman

Position: Businessman, owner of Hartman Oil

Past: Del Monte Foods and Xerox Corp.

Education: Wichita State University

Website: http://hartmanforkansas.com/

Hartman entered the race Feb. 15. He has criticized what he views as dysfunction in Topeka.

He has called balancing the state budget the “elephant in the room” and has decried “career politicians.”

Hartman ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010, losing to eventual winner Mike Pompeo. He is a restaurateur and owns oil, gas and drilling companies as well.

Mark Hutton

Position: Businessman, founder of Hutton Construction

Past: Kansas House, 2013-2016

Education: Kansas State University

Website: huttonforgovernor.com

Hutton, who owns a construction company in Wichita, drew attention in the Capitol for his criticism of the tax exemption for limited liability companies and other businesses. He said he is campaigning as a pragmatic conservative.

Kris Kobach

Kris Kobach
File photo

Position: Kansas secretary of state since 2011

Past: Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, 2007-2009

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Harvard University; law degree, Yale Law School; master’s degree and doctorate in political science, Oxford University

Website: www.kobach2018.com/

Kobach entered the race June 8. In his announcement he criticized the Legislature for its decision to override Brownback’s veto of tax increases meant to help balance the state budget. He also promised to keep undocumented immigrants from receiving welfare services.

Kobach has gained a national reputation for championing a law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship to register to vote and for advising President Donald Trump on immigration and voting issues.

In May, Trump named Kobach to a federal commission to examine the integrity of elections.

Ed O’Malley

Ed O’Malley

Position: President Kansas Leadership Center

Past: Kansas House, 2003-2006

Education: Kansas State University

Website: https://omalleyforkansas.com/

O’Malley kicked off an exploratory campaign in January. He was seen as a centrist during his time in the Kansas House. He began campaigning outright in October.

O’Malley said the state needs leadership that “brings us together rather than divides us apart.”

Ken Selzer

Ken Selzer
Wichita Eagle File photo

Position: Kansas insurance commissioner

Past: Executive managing director of a brokerage and insurance services firm

Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting, Kansas State University; master’s degree in business administration, University of Southern California

Website: http://kansansforselzer.com/

Selzer filed paperwork in early August to begin fundraising. He told The Eagle on Aug. 7 he intends to run.

He plans to highlight his service as insurance commissioner, saying that he made the department more efficient and customer-friendly.

Also running:

Patrick Kucera, Leawood businessman

Ethan Randleas, Wichita Heights High School student

Tyler Ruzich, Shawnee Mission North High School student

Dominic Scavuzzo, Rockhurst High School student

Independent candidates

Richard Kloos

Position: Pastor, Zealous Church of Topeka

Past: Real estate agent

Education: Bachelor’s degree in theology and ministerial studies, Trinity College

Website: http://www.kloosforkansas.com

Kloos says preserving Kansas’s appeal is at the top of his agenda. He says he wants a fair distribution of resoruces among school districts and says the state’s budget needs an immediate correction.

Possible independent candidate

Greg Orman

Position: Businessman

Past: Environmental Lighting Concepts

Education: Princeton University

Orman is hiring staff but hasn’t made a final decision about running, according friend and previous campaign manager Jim Jones. Orman ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2014 as an independent against Republican Pat Roberts. He is frequently critical of the two-party system.

Contributing: Dion Lefler of The Eagle

Jonathan Shorman: 785-296-3006, @jonshorman