Topeka — The 2010 race for governor got energized Monday as U.S. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., opened up his gubernatorial campaign committee for fundraising business.
“Today, I have taken the first step that will allow me to run for governor,” Brownback said in a statement. “I will continue to work hard during the coming year in the Senate to find solutions to the serious issues facing our state and the nation and focus on efforts to create jobs at home and grow our Kansas economy.”
Meanwhile, legislative veteran Dennis McKinney, a Democrat from Greensburg, was sworn into office as the new state treasurer and immediately faced the question of whether he was going to run for governor.
“My first job is to be a good state treasurer. If I don’t do well in this job, then I don’t run for anything later on,” McKinney said. He added: “I come from a farming background. I have to have the 2009 crop in the bin before I worry about the 2010 crop.”
McKinney, the House minority leader for the past five years, was appointed treasurer by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, to fill the remaining two years of the term of Lynn Jenkins, a Republican who was elected to represent the 2nd Congressional District, which includes west Lawrence.
McKinney was sworn into office before a packed crowd in the Kansas House that included Sebelius and many Democratic and Republican leaders.
McKinney’s status as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2010 shot up when Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson announced he would not seek elective office in 2010. Sebelius is term-limited and may run for the Senate seat that Brownback is giving up.
House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence, said the Democratic field “is pretty wide open right now.” He said if he were to develop a short list of possible Democratic candidates, it would include McKinney, U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes east Lawrence, and Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Joe Reardon. He said there could be others.
The Republican Party primary could feature a duel between Brownback and three-term Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, who had earlier filed the paperwork to run for governor.
Davis said Thornburgh would be a formidable opponent to Brownback. “Anybody who thinks Brownback is going to get anointed to this over Thornburgh is making a serious mistake,” Davis said.