Martin Hawver
Guest columnist
Whether it’s the late decision on reapportionment coming down from those three federal judges in Kansas City, Kan., in early June or the four-day rush to file for legislative seats, many campaigns are already over.
Already over? In this election year?
Yes, there are 23 House seat races that are already over, there being just one major party candidate filed for the office. In the Senate, there’s just one member who gets a free ride into a second term. Now, that’s not icon-clad official; there might be a Libertarian or a Reform Party candidate or such, but those small parties generally aren’t good for more than 3 or 4 percent of the popular vote.
And, there are 18 districts in the 125-member House, where the election fuss will be over when they finish counting the votes at the Aug. 7 primary. In the Senate, there are eight primary elections that will decide who wins the seat.
In the House, there’s just one Democrat-only race (in Sedgwick County) where the winner goes to the House and 17 GOP-only events. In the Senate, the primary-only races are all Republican shoot-outs.
Now, the politics of these races can be interesting. In some districts, where either Republican or Democratic voter registration is so overwhelming that you’d figure that there must be a zoning angle to it, it almost makes sense to settle things at the primary. Why would Republicans spend much time or effort campaigning in that Sedgwick County Democratic district?  Don’t some Republicans still mow their own lawns?
In the Republican primary-only districts in both houses, there’s an aspect of “Republican-enough?” at work. That’s the conservative-moderate Republican battle that has seen the Senate in a political uproar for the past two years. Those GOP-only races might just indicate that Democrats in Kansas—try as they might— couldn’t get enough or the right type of candidates to stand as “fallback” candidates.
Now, nobody really wants to be a “fallback” candidate, who is likely to get party support only if the “wrong” Republican wins the primary election, one so conservative that Democrats, with the help of disappointed GOP primary voters jumping on board, might be able to win the general election.
It takes a real party insider to volunteer—or get talked into—that position because outside of maybe some photos and yard signs for the family history chest, you’re pretty much on your own in terms of assistance.
We’ll get a pretty good picture in early August about just what the Kansas Legislature is going to look like politically: How conservative, how moderate, and whether we like the indications we’re getting.
And, let’s not forget, those already-over and primary-only House and Senate districts also provide us a test of character for 2014 (for the House) and 2016 (for the Senate) elections. We’ll test that character when we see whether the already- or almost-in candidates toss enough candy at the July 4 parades.
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com.