Danedri Thompson
Democrats, Republicans and unafilliated voters will have choices on the Aug. 5 primary ballot. The deadline for candidates to file for federal, state and county offices closed on June 2, and now it’s up to voters to winnow down the candidates in a number of races.
Every voter will have the opportunity to vote in a primary race for the Johnson County Commission Chair. In the non-partisan race for chair, incumbent Ed Eilert faces challengers Ed Peterson and Patricia Lightner. Peterson currently serves on the board of commissioners, representing Prairie Village and Fairway. Lightner previously represented part of Olathe in the Kansas House of Representatives. Most recently, she challenged Rep. Kevin Yoder in the 2010 Republican primary for U.S. Congress.
Brian Newby, Johnson County Election Chair, said unaffiliated voters will have the most options on primary election day.
“They can come in on election day and request an unaffiliated ballot or they can request a party ballot,” Newby said. “But then they also have to affiliate with that particular party. That is a change. The Democrats you used to not have to affiliate with them. Now you must.”
It’s too late for a voter who is affiliated with either party to change their affiliation. Those registered as Republicans or Democrats will receive ballots for their party.
While the county commission races will appear on all ballots, the Democratic and Republican Party ballots will vary widely. There are more Republican candidates than Democrat candidates – meaning GOP ballots will typically be longer.
Both parties will have primary races for a U.S. Senate seat, currently held by Pat Roberts.
Democrats will choose between Chad Taylor of Topeka, who serves as the Shawnee County District Attorney, and Patrick Wiesner, an attorney from Lawrence. The winner will face one of four people vying for the Republican nod.
The incumbent, Pat Roberts, will appear on the Republican ballot. He faces Milton Wolf, a Leawood radiologist; D.J. Smith of Osawatomie and Alvin Zahnter of Russell.
Democrats also must choose between two candidates to appear on the ballot for the U.S. Congress. Kelly Kultala, who served in the Kansas Senate and the Wyandotte County Commission, faces Reginald Marselus, of Lenexa. The winner will challenge the Republican incumbent, Rep. Kevin Yoder in the November general election.
Those three races will comprise the local ballot for registered Democrats. Republicans will also select primary winners in a variety of statewide races, including the Governor’s race.
Incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will face Republican challengers Jennifer Winn and Robin R. Lais on Aug. 5. The winner will face Democrat candidate Paul Davis and his running mate, Jill Docking.
The National Journal, a non-partisan periodical, is calling the likely match-up between Brownback and Davis one to watch.
“By all rights, Kansas should be safe Republican territory, but it features the sleeper race of the cycle,” the magazine said of the 2014 gubernatorial race.
Republicans will also choose between incumbent Kris Kobach and Scott Morgan for the GOP nod for Secretary of State. The winner faces Democrat Jean Schodorf in the general election.
Registered GOP voters will also winnow a crowded Insurance Commissioner race to one candidate. There is no incumbent in the state-wide office, but there are five Republican candidates including John Toplikar, who represents Gardner and Edgerton on the Johnson County Board of Commissioners; Beverly Gossage, David Powell, Ken Selzer, and Clark Shultz. The winner will face Democrat Dennis Anderson, of Overland Park, in the general election.
Republicans will likely select the next state Senator to represent parts of Gardner and Edgerton for the next two years. The winner will complete the remainder of former Sen. Pat Apple’s term in the Kansas Senate. Republican precinct committee members selected Sen. Molly Baumgardner to complete the remainder of 2014, but voters will select a person to represent them in the final two years of Apple’s term. In that race, Baumgardner faces challenger Charlotte O’Hara in the Republican primary. There is no Democrat filed in the race.
Locally, there are no primaries for Kansas House, however Reps. Willie Dove and Bill Sutton will have Democrat opponents in the general election. Dove will face Democrat Jan Pringle, Gardner; Sutton faces Democrat Caitlin Trujillo, also of Gardner.
Advance mail-in ballots will begin hitting mailboxes on or after July 16. Advanced in-person voting will begin on July 21.
Newby said it’s difficult to predict turnout in an August primary.
“We’ll see about 25 percent countywide, but some races that have high opposition may have 40 percent, and some that don’t have any opposition may have 5 percent,” he said. “Historically, we’ve had about 25 percent turnout overall.”
The general election will be Nov. 4.