Topeka About 25 minutes before Tuesday's deadline, Democrat John Wilson, a political newcomer, filed to run against veteran state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, to represent the 45th District in the Kansas House.
Wilson, 24, said he decided to challenge Sloan, 62, in part, because of Sloan's support in the past legislative session for bills to build two coal-fired power plants in western Kansas.
Wilson was among more than 40 candidates who filed for public office Tuesday, the last day for major political party candidates to do so. Independent or third-party candidates have a noon Aug. 4 deadline to file.
Among the noteworthy developments, anti-abortion Republican Phill Kline filed to run for a full term as Johnson County district attorney. Kline was defeated in a landslide when he sought re-election as attorney general in 2006, but then won the Johnson County DA's job in a vote of GOP officials. Kline has been investigating abortion clinics for approximately five years; the clinics have accused him of politically motivated prosecutions.
Also filing for public office on Tuesday were Republicans Steve Abrams of Arkansas City and Iris Van Meter of Thayer, who are seeking state Senate seats. Both made national news in recent years as members of the conservative majority on the State Board of Education that approved science standards critical of evolution, sex education standards that made it more difficult for students to take sex education classes, and hiring Bob Corkins as education commissioner though he had no background in education. All those moves have been reversed since moderates gained control of the board after the 2006 election.
Wilson vs. Sloan
In the race for the 45th House District, Wilson said of Sloan's position in favor of the coal-fired plants legislation, "That's a particularly important issue to me. I'm disappointed with Tom Sloan's vote on that, and there are quite a few people disappointed with that as well."
Sloan, a seven-term incumbent, said he supported the measures because coal is a crucial part of the power mix in Kansas, and the legislation also included provisions to increase renewable energy.
But environmentalists opposed the two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants because of the project's greenhouse gas emissions, and they said the so-called "green" provisions were a sham. The measures were eventually vetoed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius who cited both environmental concerns and the fact that 85 percent of the power was being produced for out-of-state customers.
Wilson said the state needs to focus on a more long-term energy policy "than what was proposed last session." He also said he would work hard on health care reform and criticized the Legislature for doing little in that regard.
Wilson graduated from Kansas University in 2006 and is national youth mobilization manager for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit group that focuses on reducing obesity in children.
Because neither Wilson nor Sloan faces any opposition in the Aug. 5 primaries, they will square off in the Nov. 4 general election.
Many free rides
At the end of the day, four of 40 Senate seats and 44 of 125 House seats drew no opposition.
Several of those receiving free rides to re-election represent Lawrence and the surrounding area. State Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, drew no challengers.
"I think it's getting tougher and tougher to get people to run for office," said Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh.
Campaigns are getting more bare-knuckled and time-consuming, he said.
He said turnout in the contests will be determined by the candidates.
"If we have a race with two actively engaged candidates that are well-funded, then you are going to see a better turnout within that particular district."
Congressional, state contests
The field is set for the Aug. 5 primary and Nov. 4 general election, and here is the lineup:
Jim Slattery faces Lee Jones in the Democratic Party primary. The winner will square off against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts and Libertarian Randall Hodgkinson.
House District 2 (includes western Lawrence)
Jim Ryun faces Lynn Jenkins in the Republican Party primary. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Nancy Boyda and Libertarian Robert Gerrard.
House District 3 (includes eastern Lawrence)
Nick Jordan faces Paul Showen in the Republican Party primary. The winner will take on Democratic incumbent Dennis Moore and Libertarian Joe Bellis.
Senate District 2
Democratic incumbent Marci Francisco will face Republican Scott Morgan in the general election.
Senate District 3
Republican incumbent Roger Pine, Democrat Tom Holland and Libertarian Patrick Wilbur will be on the general election ballot.
Senate District 19 (includes part of Douglas County)
Democratic incumbent Anthony Hensley will face Republican Shari Weber in the general election.
House District 10
Democrat Tony Brown, Republican John Coen and Libertarian William Stewart Starks will be on the general election ballot.
House District 38
Republican incumbent Anthony Brown faces Democrat Stephanie Kelton in the general election.
House District 44
Democratic incumbent Barbara Ballard is unchallenged.
House District 45
Republican incumbent Tom Sloan will face Democrat John Wilson in the general election.
House District 46
Democratic incumbent Paul Davis is unchallenged.
House District 47
Republican incumbent Lee Tafanelli is unchallenged.
House District 53 (includes part of Douglas County)
Democratic incumbent Ann Mah faces Republican Cecil Washington Jr. in the general election.
State Board of Education
District 4 (includes Douglas County)
Alan Detrich faces Robert Meissner in the Republican Party primary. The winner will face Democrat Carolyn Campbell in the general election.