Archive for Sunday, December 27, 2009

Candidate needed to pick up Democrat banner

Field for governor’s race still in flux

December 27, 2009


When gubernatorial candidate Tom Wiggans dropped out of the race this month, it left Kansas Democrats again playing catch-up to presumed GOP nominee U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.

Wiggans, a former pharmaceutical executive who grew up in Kansas but recently moved back to the state, acknowledged he would have had a tough time defeating Brownback’s aggressive and well-funded campaign.

Larry Gates, Kansas Democratic Party chairman, said several people had stepped aside when Wiggans announced his bid. They are reconsidering, and more than one candidate could announce a bid in January, he said. Herb West III, of Paola, declared his candidacy months ago, but he didn’t gain the backing of party leaders. West ran unsuccessfully for Miami County sheriff in 2008.

Apparently state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, is one of the potential candidates. The two-term senator and former Lawrence mayor said this week that some of her friends had asked her to consider a bid.

“People have said, ‘We think you would be good.’ Or, ‘Would you consider this?” she said.

Francisco said she was undecided but added it would be a huge commitment and that she wasn’t sure how much support she would have in other areas of the state.

Gates, a Johnson County attorney who decided against his own bid in October to focus on his businesses, said the main challenge is that Brownback has his job as a U.S. senator and has known for months he was running for governor.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat who was elevated to the office when two-term Gov. Kathleen Sebelius left to head the Department of Health and Human Services, has repeatedly said he won’t run in 2010.

“My candidates who have considered this are all people who have to balance obligations of their professional or business status with trying to ramp up a run for governor, which is a better part of a year’s engagement,” Gates said.

Still, Gates said the party has time for one or more strong candidates to emerge. Sebelius didn’t officially kick off her first campaign until the end of February 2002.

But circumstances were much different. She had been raising funds for months, and she already had more money combined than the Republican challengers when she officially started running, according to news reports.

Jill Docking, a Wichita financial adviser and chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, said last week that she was not in the running for the Democratic nomination.

She said voters are likely looking for an alternative option to Brownback, a conservative Republican, but it will be a challenge as the calendar turns to 2010.

“That person either has to have the ability to raise a great deal of money quickly or already have name identification. That’s a problem with the shortened time period,” Docking said.

Chad Manspeaker, who ran Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda’s 2008 campaign, said it’s difficult for Democrats because they seem to have gone through the list of candidates who already have name recognition in the state.

“I’m going to remain the eternal optimist,” said Manspeaker, the public affairs director for Labors Local 1290 in Wyandotte County. “Anything is possible in Kansas politics.”

Francisco said the nine Democrats in the Kansas Senate are naturally looked at as potential candidates because they wouldn’t have to give up their seats in a 2010 campaign.

But some of them already are considering other races. Sen. Chris Steineger, of Kansas City, Kan., instead is deciding whether to run for secretary of state. Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, is seeking the Democratic nomination to face Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., in the 2nd District U.S. House race.

Gates didn’t mention any names last week of potential candidates, but he said they could come from either the political or business arenas.

Even though Wiggans exiting the race means Democrats have to again search for a candidate, Gates said they still have time to find the right person.

“It would have set us back if it happened six months later,” he said.

— Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild contributed to this report.


Neomarxist123 8 years, 5 months ago

It is going to be VERY tough running in any State as a Democrat in 2010 - but especially in a red state like Kansas.

Expect many prominent Democrats to sit this one out, or retire as Dennis Moore did. The change and hope Obama promised is not popular with independents - the ones who truly decide elections.

Witness the Republican governors in Virginia and New Jersey.

Zachary Stoltenberg 8 years, 5 months ago

I would love for 'ol Marci to run. The queen of special interests running against the hard nosed conservative? The flames of her political career spiraling into defeat will be seen from Hutch. We should all start practicing how to say "Governor Brownback.". I think it has a nice ring to it.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

Also to tie anchor around neck, jump into lake.

leedavid 8 years, 5 months ago

There are a lot of angry people right now. This is not the time to pick up a democratic banner and wave it around. That would be a total waste of money. Republicans are going to take the governors office and Dennis Moore's seat. Plain and simple as that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Republicans are going to take the governors office and Dennis Moore's seat. Plain and simple as that."

And then continue the same policies that have us in the current mess.

Centerville 8 years, 5 months ago

Joan Wagnon will be out. That will be an excellent start.

leedavid 8 years, 5 months ago

Bozo, the mess we are in is nationwide, not just Kansas. So your point in this case is null and void. Besides we have had a democratic governor for how long now?

Steve Jacob 8 years, 5 months ago

"she (Francisco) wasn’t sure how much support she would have in other areas of the state."

Meaning she has to be the most liberal Kansas house member, so I don't think it will translate to votes outside of town.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 5 months ago

Yes, why even hold an election? Why even have a choice?

Let's just anoint Brownback as Governor for Life.

texburgh 8 years, 5 months ago

Jacob - you describe Sam Brownback and then try to tie him to Obama? What gives?

Tom McCune 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm sorry, but it should be obvious to anyone who listens to him that Brownback is mentally ill. He hallucinates, and should be disqualified from public office on those grounds. I say this as a registered Republican.

Centerville 8 years, 5 months ago

Didn't Jill Docking run for something a few years ago?

dizzy_from_your_spin 8 years, 5 months ago

The democrats need to run their most notable Kansas democrat...Fred Phelps.

Douglas Redding 8 years, 4 months ago

Wow, you Anonymous folk talk tough, but don't spell-check often enough, do y'all?

Barbara Emert 8 years, 4 months ago

swan_diver you've got to be kidding or hallucinating. "Thank GOD for Sen. Roberts"? He only knows where Kansas is at election time and the remainder of the time he's a resident of D.C. marching to the party drumbeat.

justthefacts 8 years, 4 months ago

Dennis Moore would have the best shot at beating Brownback, imo.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.