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Archive for Friday, April 12, 2002

Stovall schedules announcement for Monday

April 12, 2002

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— Moderate Republicans worried about finding another candidate for governor as Attorney General Carla Stovall scheduled an announcement about her plans.

Moderates remained uneasy Friday because many of them believed Stovall plans to drop out of the race for personal reasons. Stovall was vacationing this week in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.

Stovall plans to make an announcement at 1:30 p.m. Monday, in the lobby outside her office in the Memorial Building, near the Capitol, said spokeswoman Mary Tritsch.

Last year, moderate leaders united behind Stovall, and many Republicans see State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger as conservatives' choice. Gov. Bill Graves, a moderate, cannot seek a third term under the Kansas Constitution.

"The moderate wing of the party seems to have a lot of trouble finding a candidate it can settle on," said Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, a moderate.

Shallenburger and Wichita Mayor Bob Knight still are in the GOP race. Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer is considering a run, as is House Speaker Kent Glasscock, Stovall's lieutenant governor running mate.

Sherrer said Friday that he plans to make an announcement early next week. He said the weekend will give him time to talk with family and friends about a possible campaign.

"It's my time table, not anyone else's," Sherrer said.

Senate President Dave Kerr plans to announce his intentions after the Legislature ends its session in May. Sen. David Adkins, of Leawood, now a Republican candidate for attorney general, would not rule out the governor's race Wednesday.

Shallenburger said he views Sherrer as a likely candidate even if Glasscock decides to run, and that there is a good chance Kerr will enter the race.

"I still think not everybody is in the race," he said.

As the only announced Democratic candidate, Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius is party's presumed nominee.

Many GOP moderates argue that as a conservative nominee, Shallenburger would be unable to unite the party, allowing Sebelius to win. Some moderate leaders, including Graves and Sherrer, wanted the party to unite behind a single candidate to have a better chance of capturing the nomination.

But Sherrer said he is not sure moderates can unite.

"I don't know if there's a big game plan at this point," Sherrer said.

So far, prominent moderates haven't viewed Knight as being in their camp. Knight himself has avoided labels.

"If Stovall decides not to run, there is no moderate candidate," said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood.

But Sherrer said Knight might prove acceptable to moderates, despite his opposition to abortion.

"To be fair to Bob, I don't think he's had much of a chance to define himself," Sherrer said. "Being pro-life doesn't mean you can't be moderate in your approach to government."

Another moderate, Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence and candidate for insurance commissioner, acknowledged she's considered the possibility of other candidates, like Glasscock or Sherrer emerging, but added, "I haven't seen a ticket yet."

Graves, state GOP Chairman Mark Parkinson and other prominent moderates met Tuesday evening at Cedar Crest, the governor's residence, after speculation built that Stovall was reconsidering her campaign.

Parkinson later told The Wichita Eagle he isn't taking sides in the primary and would try to get Shallenburger or Knight elected.

But Shallenburger said Parkinson is part of a small group of moderates who "are concerned that I am not the kind of Republican they want."

"I believe that's not the view of most Republicans," Shallenburger said Thursday.

Sherrer scoffed at Shallenburger's criticism, noting that Shallenburger decided to run in October after a meeting with prominent conservatives at U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback's home in Topeka. Brownback is considered the state GOP's leading conservative.

"I do think Shallenburger should remember he was selected in a meeting with a U.S. senator, in a little cabal of his own," Sherrer said. "He who is without political sin, cast the first stone."

Shallenburger did agree with Parkinson's assessment that without Stovall in the race, Sebelius would be the front-runner, based on her two terms as insurance commissioner. Shallenburger is serving his first term as state treasurer, and Stovall is finishing her second as attorney general.

But Shallenburger said the front-runner label is meaningless with nearly five months left before the Aug. 6 primary election.

"Carla did have the best name ID of all of us," he said.

Shallenburger said that speculation has led some Republicans who wanted to sit out the primary to offer him their help.

"It's had a very positive effect on us," he said. "We'd like them to rumble for weeks."

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