Topeka It's kind of the political equivalent to the start of March Madness.
Matchups for the Aug. 1 political party primaries and, to some extent, the Nov. 7 general election are now set as the deadline expired Monday for candidates to file for office.
With the field in place, officials from both major political parties touted their teams.
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates said Kansas' minority party was on the rise under the leadership of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and he noted recent high-profile switches of several Republicans to the Democratic fold.
"We welcome these new leaders, as well as all Kansans who are committed to putting the best interests of our state first," Gates said.
But Ron Freeman, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said "contrary to popular opinion, as a party we are coming together."
Seven Republicans are off and running in the GOP gubernatorial primary with the winner facing Sebelius, a Democrat, who has no primary opponent.
In statewide races, incumbent Republican officeholders including Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh face challenges within their own party. On the Democratic side, attorney and author Robert Beattie of Wichita and state Sen. David Haley of Kansas City, Kan., are vying for their party's nomination to run for secretary of state.
Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, a Republican, and Johnson County District Atty. Paul Morrison, who recently switched to the Democratic Party, already are locked in a tough campaign. And State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, and Shawnee County Treasurer Larry Wilson, a Democrat, will oppose each other in November.
On the federal side, Lawrence's two U.S. House representatives drew no primary opposition, but they will line up against opponents in the general election.
Locally, no challenges emerged in the primaries in state House of Representatives races.
But the State Board of Education contests will probably be the most hotly contested in recent years. Three members who voted for controversial science standards that criticize evolution are up against opponents in the Republican Party primary.
Republicans running to be the party's nominee for governor include Jim Barnett, a state senator from Emporia; Ken Canfield, founder of a fathering center from Overland Park; Rex Crowell, a former legislator from Longton; Dennis Hawver, an attorney from Ozawkie; Robin Jennison, former House speaker from Healy; Timothy Pickell, an attorney from Westwood; and Richard Rodewald, from Eudora.
In November, U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, a Republican, will face Democrat Nancy Boyda of Topeka in a rematch of the 2004 campaign.
And U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Democrat whose district includes eastern Lawrence, will go against the winner of a Republican field that includes Chuck Ahner of Overland Park; Thomas Scherer of Merriam; Scott Schwab of Olathe; and Paul Showen of Shawnee.
In local state legislative races, Reps. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, drew no opposition in the primaries and no major party competition in November. In the general election, Davis will meet Libertarian Marcus Kirby, and Sloan is pitted against Reform Party candidate Jason Littlejohn.
In the general election, Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, will face Republican Rick Davis of Lawrence; while Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, will go against Republican Roy Dunn, a Franklin County commissioner, and Libertarian Robert Garrard of Edgerton.
Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, will face Democrat James Robert Faris of Ozawkie; and Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, will face Democrat Diane Bryant, a retired school librarian from Lenexa.
In the GOP primary for secretary of state, incumbent Thornburgh is running against state Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. Insurance Commissioner Praeger matches up against Eric Carter, state representative from Overland Park.