The state's top election official wants to place Kansans in the voting booth early next year so they can help determine the Democratic and Republican nominees for president.
But the question is when would be the best time to have a presidential primary, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh said Tuesday.
"The time is ripe for Kansas to get back in the game," Thornburgh told Senate Republicans during a caucus meeting. "The $2 million question is, 'When is the best time?'"
Because it would cost $2 million to have a primary, state lawmakers say it makes no sense to spend that kind of money if the proposed Kansas primary has little or no influence on the selection of candidates.
To influence the selection, Kansas must time its primary just right - not too early and not too late, Thornburgh said.
"Going first means the field is still wide. I would rather Kansas be involved in the decision than the winnowing," he said.
He said states in the second wave of contests probably will have a bigger influence on selection of a candidate than the traditional early contests, such as the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, both in January.
But waiting too long could mean that Kansas would have to share a primary date with many other states.
State law previously set the first Tuesday in April as the day of the primary, a date seen as too late.
The state had primaries in 1980 and 1992 but canceled elections planned for 1996, 2000 and 2004, partly because of the cost.
State Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, said he would like to see a Kansas primary done in conjunction with Kansas Day, which is Jan. 29 and celebrates when Kansas became a state in 1861.
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"That would give Kansas Days a kick in the pants," he said.
Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, agreed and noted it also would help the campaign of U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who officially announced his campaign for the presidency last week.
But Thornburgh said some would argue that if Brownback were still in the race, few other candidates would campaign in Kansas, conceding the state to its home candidate.
Under current law, the secretary of state can pick a primary date as long it is tied in with five other states.
A proposal by Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, says if Kansas cannot join a regional primary then it must have its election Feb. 5.
Thornburgh said Kansas' maneuvering is part of a national trend of states trying to jockey into a better position for presidential primaries.
Many states' leaders complain that Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence on the selection process.
More than a half-dozen states have moved their primaries up to Feb. 5.