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Governor’s race provides good choices on both sides E-mail
Thursday, 13 July 2017 07:51

A SECOND OPINION, The Hutchinson News

Kansas should have a wide-open race for governor next year, and a stable of solid, quality candidates has taken shape, giving voters some good choices to get excited about from both parties.

First, the Republicans: Former State Sen. Jim Barnett, a Topeka physician and unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2006; oil company owner Wink Hartman of Wichita; Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; and Ed O'Malley, a former state representative now president of the Kansas Leadership Center.

Should Gov. Sam Brownback receive an appointment in the Trump administration, that would elevate Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and obviously position him comfortably to run for the seat. Also discussed as potential candidates are Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle.

Headlining the Democrat side of the field is former state legislator and Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty, an Ellsworth-area farmer, and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who would be the state's first black governor. Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita also has shown interest.

All of that promises good primary contests for both Republicans and Democrats come August 2018. O'Malley offers the kind of fresh leadership for the GOP that Svaty does the Democrats. But Barnett also is a solid choice, better positioned now than he was running against incumbent Kathleen Sebelius in the 2006 general election. These are the sort of candidates that deserve Kansans' attention at a time when our state needs to be thoughtful about choosing its next governor.

Despite widespread dissatisfaction with Brownback, Kobach is a big threat to keep the state mired in the fiscal mess and toxic politics of the status quo. One state newspaper columnist already has predicted Kobach will be our next governor. The reason? A simple platform backed by rhetoric that sounds eerily familiar to the successful formula that put Donald Trump in the White House.

Kobach is campaigning on excessive taxation, rooting out unspecified corruption in Topeka - "drain the swamp" - and illegal immigration, which has been Kobach's singular issue all along, something that plays well in national politics but is virtually irrelevant in governing Kansas, despite his many attempts to make it so.

Kobach and the special-interest groups that will support him will frame the desperately needed undoing of the Brownback tax policy as the largest tax increase in Kansas history. In reality, the Legislature rebalanced the state's revenue and restored taxes on sole proprietorships and other businesses. This legislative session was monumental in restoring the state's fiscal stability.

And now Kansans have an opportunity to choose thoughtful, moderate leadership in their next governor. It is imperative during this campaign that we look past simple sound bites and the emotion-based but misleading advertising sure to come from the special interests and delve deeply into the character and policy chops of all the candidates. We've got some good ones in the mix, and they don't necessarily have household names.




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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