elections

Republican Scott Schwab and Democrat Brian McClendon disagree on the most basic of questions about the job they’re competing for, Kansas secretary of state.

Case in point: Is it the secretary’s job to increase voter turnout?

Schwab, a lawmaker of more than 10 years, says no. He says the things that drive voters to the polls lie beyond the secretary’s control — times of war, ailing economies, contested races.

“The secretary of state can’t make people vote and I can’t change people’s hearts,” he said. “All I can do is make sure it’s a good experience when they do go vote.”

McClendon, a former Google vice president from Lawrence, doesn’t buy that.

“The current secretary of state” — Republican candidate for governor Kris Kobach — “has done the opposite,” he said. 

Steve Becker
Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Moderate Republican Rep. Steve Becker of Buhler lost his primary in August, but he hasn’t conceded his Kansas House seat to his conservative challenger just yet. He’s mounting a write-in campaign.

Two years ago, when Becker was elected to his third term, a slew of moderate Republicans won seats in the Kansas House. Democrats made equally substantial gains. The Legislature shifted significantly toward the center. 

Mark Statzer / KMUW/File photo

In the race for the 4th District seat, Republican incumbent Ron Estes and his Democratic opponent, James Thompson, are pretty much political polar opposites.

Election Day will be here before you know it. It’s like finals week in your civic life.

So when Tuesday, Nov. 6, arrives, you’ll be ready, right? Because you’ve been cramming by reading up on all the candidates, watching every debate, scouring candidate websites for position papers, of course.

Local organizers in Dodge City fought for more, and more accessible, polling places even before their lone, out-of-the-way voting location drew national attention.

On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued County Clerk Debbie Cox.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

The race for the Sedgwick County Commission’s 5th District is between two men who have experience being a commissioner.

Republican Jim Howell of Derby is currently representing the district, and independent candidate Jim Skelton is trying to reclaim his old job.

Joanna Fewins / Kansas Public Radio

It’s campaign season, meaning candidates are filling television airwaves and mailboxes with political advertising. Now, campaigning has spread onto another platform: your smartphone.

The same technology that allows you to stream your favorite team or show from anywhere also allows political groups from either side of the aisle to find you and subject you to a glut of political ads for congressional races in Kansas, Missouri and all over the country.

Come in and sit down at Anita Parsa’s kitchen table. Help yourself to the chocolate chip cookies and she’ll get you an iced tea. Might as well make yourself comfortable.

Because for the next hour, she’s going to school you on a massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  

“I like to figure out puzzles,” Parsa says. “I like to crack things, and that’s what this is all about.”

This week, the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee, Kris Kobach, called for more stringent work requirements for Medicaid and welfare recipients in Kansas. That drew more comparisons to former Gov. Sam Brownback from Kobach's Democratic rival, Laura Kelly. 

Meanwhile, Kelly picked up an endorsement from yet another former Republican governor. And independent Greg Orman insisted he’s not a spoiler in the race.

And new congressional campaign fundraising reports in the 2nd District show political newcomer Steve Watkins, running as a Republican, is continuing to get support from his father and a lot of help from U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan's super PAC. In the same period, veteran Democrat Paul Davis's take was a record for the district.

The Kansas News Service team walks through this week’s campaign headlines.


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