Last-minute filings Monday morning have given local Republicans a bumper crop of candidates to choose from during the Aug. 7 primary: nine candidates have filed for three legislative seats, and two candidates have filed for a Douglas County Commission seat.
Democrats will find two primary contests on their August ballots: one for a local legislative seat and another for the area's U.S. House seat.
To participate in the August primary, local voters must be registered by July 22 at the Douglas County Courthouse.
The registration books will be opened again on Aug. 8 and will remain open until Oct. 21, said John Reinhardt, public information officer for the Kansas secretary of state's office.
Local political party officials said today that it was difficult to get candidates in the past, but the property tax issue may have drawn out more candidates this year.
Chris Miller, Douglas County's GOP chairman, couldn't be reached today for comment on the three local GOP legislative primaries.
HOWEVER, HIS predecessor, Ken Martinez, who is now associate vice chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, said the number of GOP candidates filing for office was "very encouraging."
"It really is exciting. I look forward to a Republican sweep in November. Of course I'm not biased," Martinez said, chuckling.
The GOP primaries are in:
The Kansas House, 43rd District, featuring Tom Pyle, a Eudora businessman, Robert Watchous, a DeSoto attorney, and Jay Lang, an Olathe Realtor. The winner of the GOP primary will face Judith K. Macy, a DeSoto Democrat who filed on Monday.
The Kansas House, 45th District, featuring two Baldwin Republicans, Walter Myers, who filed Monday, and Richard Rodewald, and Martha Parker, a rural Overbrook Republican who has run for the seat twice. The winner will face incumbent Democrat John Solbach, who has no primary opposition.
The Kansas House, 46th District, featuring Terry O'Malley and Sean Williams, who both filed Monday, and Ervin Steele. O'Malley is a KU law student, Steele is a retired farmer and Williams manages farm property and real estate and serves as a marketing assistant for Strata Laboratories in Lawrence. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Betty Jo Charlton, who drew no primary opposition.
THE COUNTY commission, 1st District, featuring Republicans Mark Buhler, a Lawrence Realtor, and Ellis Hayden, a semi-retired Lawrence coin shop operator. The winner of that primary will face Democrat Mike Rundle, who is now a Lawrence city commissioner.
Democrats will see two area races on their primary ballots.
The lone legislative primary race for Democrats is for the Kansas House, 44th District.
Garth Burns, chairman of the Douglas County Central Democratic Committee, said today that he was "very satisfied" about the Democratic candidates running for legislative seats.
Two Democratic candidates will fight it out in the August primary to see who will face Republican Sandy Praeger, a former Lawrence mayor, in the November election.
Barbara Ballard, a Lawrence school board member, will face Joe Gilman, a political newcomer, in the Democratic primary.
However, Burns said it was difficult earlier this year to find a Democratic candidate to run in the 44th District seat.
"It took us a while to find someone, but once we found Barbara, she was very enthused about running. She had been thinking about it independently, so we just got together," Burns said.
Ballard is associate dean of student life and director of the Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center at Kansas University. Gilman is a computer software engineer at Bendix-King in Lawrence.
THE SEAT has been held since 1980 by Rep. Jessie Branson, a Democrat, who decided not to run again.
Democratic voters will also get a chance to choose a candidate for the 2nd District U.S. House seat. Democratic incumbent Jim Slattery, Topeka, will face Mark Creamer, Lawrence, who advocates legalization of marijuana. Creamer is serving a jail sentence for smoking marijuana in the Lawrence-Douglas County Law Enforcement Center.
There will be no primary in the Kansas House 47th District race. Democrat Bob Hazzard, rural Ozawkie, will face incumbent Republican Joann Flower, Oskaloosa, for that seat in November.