Topeka November 2010 is a long way away, but can Sam Brownback now be considered a shoo-in as Kansas’ next governor?
One obstacle for Brownback, a conservative Republican U.S. senator, disappeared Monday when GOP rival Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh dropped out of the race.
With no other Republican or major Democrat now in the contest, Brownback could be on the glide-path to the governor’s mansion.
Thornburgh, a moderate Republican, had trouble raising funds and trailed badly in early polling against Brownback.
“Internal research shows that we do not have the ability to do what needs to be done in order to win,” Thornburgh said in a letter to supporters. “As much as I want to be your next governor — the reality is the facts are not with us this time.”
Thornburgh made no mention of Brownback, a two-term senator who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination last year. Spokesman Jesse Borjon said Thornburgh would not comment now on whether he would endorse Brownback for the GOP primary, set for August 2010.
In a statement, Thornburgh urged Republicans to adhere to principles of lower taxes, less government and more individual responsibility and accountability.
“It is more important for the ideas and ideals that I believe in to win in November than for me to run. Our priority is the next generation of Kansans — not the next election,” he said.
Former Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, recently became governor after Kathleen Sebelius left the state to become President Barack Obama’s U.S. secretary of health and human services. Parkinson has said he will not stand for election as governor.
Borjon also said that Thornburgh, who has been secretary of state since 1995, will not run for re-election to that post. Kris Kobach, a former Kansas Republican Party chairman, and J.R. Claeys, of Salina, have announced their candidacies in the GOP primary for secretary of state.