Archive for Thursday, June 11, 1998

ELECTION: A BREEZE FOR LOCAL LEGISLATORS

June 11, 1998

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Five Kansas House members with districts that include at least part of Douglas County filed for re-election. Two will face no foe on the ballot.

Two Lawrence Democrats in the Kansas House will be unopposed for re-election, while the city's lone Republican representative faces a token challenge.

No adversary stepped forward to take on Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, and Troy Findley, D-Lawrence.

An opponent for Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, surfaced minutes before the noon Wednesday filing deadline. Former Lawrence City Commissioner Mike Rundle agreed to be a ``placeholder'' for the Democratic nomination in Sloan's 45th District.

Other GOP incumbents serving Douglas County in the Legislature, Reps. Ralph Tanner of Baldwin and Joann Flower of Oskaloosa, will skate through the primary before showdowns in the general election.

Forrest Swall, chair of the Democratic Party in Douglas County, said Ballard and Findley didn't have opposition because there weren't viable GOP candidates in the 44th and 46th districts.

``I think people are very well satisfied with the work Troy and Barbara are doing,'' Swall said. ``They do a nice job relating to the people in their districts.''

GOP activists John Watkins and Chris Miller, both of Lawrence, said there were plenty of Republicans in the county who could do a great job in the House. But these people don't want to subject themselves to negative aspects of the political process, they said.

``It's hard to find candidates,'' Miller said. ``People don't like the process. It can destroy lives and businesses. I've seen it.''

Watkins said he knows many people who want no part of being unfairly stereotyped an ``extremist'' simply for joining the GOP ticket.

``The right people do not want to run for office,'' Watkins said.

Rundle, 44, said Swall convinced him to put his name in the hopper. If a serious Democratic candidate emerges in the district, Rundle said he would step aside and be replaced on the ballot.

``I'm falling in the long line of placeholders,'' said Rundle, who would prefer not to wage a campaign. ``But I'll follow the call of my party.''

Sloan, 52, said all incumbents would like to believe their performance in Topeka doesn't necessitate an electoral challenge.

``The reality is that you don't satisfy everyone all the time,'' he said. ``And it takes two candidates to have a discussion of the issues.''

In other Douglas County races, Tanner will attempt to rebuff the winner of a 10th District primary between Democrats Matthew Rhea of Baldwin and Caren Rugg of Ottawa.

Flower filed for re-election in the 47th District and will take on Perry resident James Hack, who was the only Democrat to file.

Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, isn't up for re-election this year.

-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is tcarpenter@ljworld.com.

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