Tyler Duzich, second from right, makes a point during a candidate forum at Free State High School in Lawrence last month. Courtesy photo
Tyler Duzich, second from right, makes a point during a candidate forum at Free State High School in Lawrence last month. Courtesy photo

Kirk Seminoff's Pivot Point

Community engagement editor Kirk Seminoff blogs about news and issues in Wichita and Kansas.

Pivot Point

Kansas Republicans want a smaller debate stage

By Kirk Seminoff

kseminoff@wichitaeagle.com

November 06, 2017 12:29 PM

The Kansas Republican Party is doing its best W.C. Fields impersonation in keeping four teenage candidates out of planned debates next year before the Aug. 1 gubernatorial primary.

“Go away, kid, you bother me.”

Heights High’s Ethan Randleas and Johnson County residents Tyler Ruzich, Dominic Scavuzzo and Joseph Tutera Jr. are the teens vying for the GOP nomination in a crowded field with seven adults. A draft of the agreement to be signed by candidates includes wording that requires debate participants to be a registered Kansas voter (you must be 18) and have voted in the last gubernatorial election (when these teens were 13).

Kansas law doesn’t bar people under 18 from running for governor, but Republicans think they shouldn’t be seen or heard at debates. The wording would not only bar the announced teen candidates, it would also keep out any future candidates who either didn’t vote in 2014 or were younger than 18 in November 2014.

Help us deliver journalism that makes a difference in our community.

Our journalism takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work to produce. If you read and enjoy our journalism, please consider subscribing today.

It’s too bad, but understandable, that the Kansas GOP is taking this step. The eight adult candidates have nothing to gain, everything to lose with teens on the debate stage. The boys have little chance at gaining traction in the race, but showing up an adult contender with a knockout debate answer would be a talker.

Kirk Seminoff: 316-268-6278, @kseminoff