Archive for Thursday, November 24, 2005

Mays drops out of race for governor

GOP speaker of the House says contest would interfere with work

November 24, 2005


— House Speaker Doug Mays on Wednesday dropped out of the race for the Republican Party nomination for governor, throwing open the primary and further solidifying Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' credentials as tough to beat in 2006.

Mays, 55, a veteran legislator from Topeka, said he bowed out because he didn't want the backdrop of a political race to interfere with his work during the legislative session that starts Jan. 9.

"It would be unfortunate if gubernatorial politics were to stand in the way of sound policy. That, I fear, would be the case if I were to continue as a candidate," Mays said in a written statement.

Mays joined a long list of Republicans who thought about challenging Sebelius, but then decided against it. That group includes U.S. Reps. Jim Ryun, who represents western Lawrence, and Jerry Moran, of Hays, Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, and state Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, of Independence.

The Kansas Democratic Party had a one-sentence reaction to Mays' decision.

"Any candidate would have a hard time matching up with a governor who has done so much for Kansas," the statement said.

Little-known field

With nine months until the Republican Party primary, state GOP leader Tim Shallenburger has a gubernatorial field with little statewide name recognition. The candidates so far are state Sen. Jim Barnett, of Emporia, former House Speaker Robin Jennison, of Healy, and two perennial candidates, Dennis Hawver, of Ozawkie and Richard Rodewald, of Lawrence.

"The dynamics of the primary have now changed," Shallenburger said of Mays' departure.

"Most of us probably felt he was the frontrunner in the Republican Party primary. Other candidates who are running will have to fill the void or someone else will fill it for them," he said.

Who's left

The Republican candidates are now state Sen. Jim Barnett, of Emporia, former House Speaker Robin Jennison, of Healy, and two perennial candidates, Dennis Hawver, of Ozawkie, and Richard Rodewald, of Lawrence.

Shallenburger said possibly some high-profile businessmen, whom he wouldn't name, may enter the race. He said Ken Canfield, founder of the National Center for Fathering, has expressed interest, too.

Shallenburger, who lost to Sebelius in the 2002 governor's election, said Sebelius could be defeated next year but that it would be tough.

"She is not unbeatable, but she also is not the walking wounded," he said.

Despite an overwhelming Republican advantage in voter registration, Sebelius has been able to appeal to moderate Republicans in addition to securing Democratic voters.

Infighting among Republicans flared up again in recent days with anti-abortion activists calling for Shallenburger to step down because he has accepted GOP candidates who support a woman's right to an abortion.

Reaction to decision

Meanwhile, across the state, Republicans praised Mays and said the party needed to stop fighting itself.

"He has been agonizing about a rough legislative session, and being torn between a governor's race and what we have to do to get through the session," state Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said.

O'Neal added, "Republicans need to have a reason to vote for a Republican candidate."

Barnett, who is running in the primary, said Mays' decision "reflects the quality of the public servant that he is."

Barnett said he and his announced lieutenant governor running mate, state Sen. Susan Wagle, of Wichita, will continue in the primary.

"There is no question in my mind but that we are in this until the end," he said.

Jennison said Mays would have been a solid candidate.

"He would have had a lot of things to say during the campaign," he said.

For his part, Mays also said he would not seek re-election to the House. He has been in the Legislature since 1993 and speaker since 2003.

Mays has been a leading conservative voice in the Legislature and earlier this year blasted the Kansas Supreme Court's order for more funding of public schools.

He has been frequently at odds with Sebelius and unsuccessfully pushed for a constitutional amendment that would have limited the court's authority.

Asked to comment on Mays dropping out: Sebelius' office put out the following statement: "Governor Sebelius is visiting our Kansas troops in the Middle East. She takes her job as commander in chief of the Kansas National Guard and as governor very seriously. She will continue working for the people of Kansas."


erichaar 12 years, 7 months ago

Speaker Mays, You're a good man. Thank you for your service to Kansas.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 12 years, 7 months ago

I someone blew in his ear to dust out his empty head. This is the guy who was advocating throwing sex offenders (a very popular demon topic these days) out in the streets if they lived within half a mile of a school. (What about those who drive from Topeka or Eudora to snatch childern off the streets every day (???)) This would leave them on the streets without any control or supervision. Real genius , this Mays guy. Any politician that wants to make political traction out of inflamitory media hysteria is not fit to govern, he is merely another political hack.

daniboy 12 years, 6 months ago

frwent, I agree with you. I am a sex offender. I would like to say that I believe it is a mistake to force sex offenders to live 2500 feet from certain places. As now they will be forced to find out where every school, daycare center and bus-stops are so they don't have to live near them.

This law is going to allow the offender who would otherwise not have an idea of where the schools and such are, know the locations. (just in case they start to fantasize) And the state is going to have to release the information of the locations to anyone who asks for it. Otherwise the state would be forcing an offender to violate the law. If someone convicted of an offense wanted to go to one of those places to offend someone, well nothing in the law says they can't drive to a school, or walk the sidewalk in front of the school, go to the bus stop etc., and you made it much easier for them to know where to go. My question now is, does any distance make it any safer for your children if the offender knows where they get on the bus, go to school, shop at the store, sit at the park. NO! It certainly does not. Because as soon as your government decides to restrict a person's physical movement from day to day, then the Constitution has been violated, regardless of society's desire for safety.

I think this law will actually make your children more of an easy target for the determined offender. By the way, if this law is passed an offender would still be able to purchase a house across the street from a school and she/he could spend all day there mowing the lawn, looking across the street at the playground and what ever else they wanted to on the property that they would own. Then spend the other 18-hours of the day in their home in the country away from the school that closed its doors for those 18-hours.

This law doesn't make anyone safe. If you force the determined offender to find out where your children spend the day, or pick up the bus, well you will have to share the blame for the offender's behavior when he molests your child and for allowing a law like this to pass."

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