Archive for Thursday, May 31, 2012

Filing deadline looms for local offices in Kansas

May 31, 2012


— Candidates for local offices in Kansas must file by Friday for the August primary despite the current controversy playing out in federal court over political boundaries for state and national offices.

The maps for Kansas legislative seats, four U.S. House seats and the State Board of Education are up to a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. The judges are considering two days of testimony that ended Wednesday before they decide where the new districts should be placed.

The court case has no bearing on county level races, which are based on defined county and precinct boundaries.

"It would be easy to get confused," Secretary of State Kris Kobach said.

Kobach said that candidates for those offices must file by noon Friday to secure a place on the ballot. Legislative and congressional candidates have until June 11.

The primary is set for Aug. 7, and Kobach told the federal panel that his office and county election officers could make that date work if the maps were completed by the courts no later than June 13. That would require moving the legislative and congressional candidate filings back to June 15.

If the decision comes June 20 or later, Kobach said the primary would move to Aug. 14 and the filing deadline would be June 22.

Pushing the primary later could cause problems for county election offices, Kobach said, because many of the polling sites are in schools which would be starting a new term at the same time. However, Kobach questioned how much trouble it would be since schools are used for polling sites in the November general election when classes are in session.

Kobach said there other considerations in pushing deadlines back, including the window for when candidates could file a challenge against a general election opponent, such as if the candidate lives in the district for which they are seeking office.

"It's a domino effect," he said.

The delayed completion of the legislative maps hasn't discouraged all candidates from filing for office, including a primary challenger in southeast Kansas.

Democrat Julie Menghini of Pittsburg has filed to reclaim the House seat that she lost in 2010 to Rep. Terry Calloway, a Pittsburg Republican. The race was decided in 2010 by fewer than 200 votes.

In the Senate, Rep. Joe Patton of Topeka filed Thursday to challenge incumbent Sen. Vicki Schmidt, also of Topeka, in the Republican primary. Incumbent Sen. Julia Lynn of Olathe has filed for re-election for her seat in Johnson County.

The federal judges did not give any indication of when they would have the new maps ready, other than to say they were giving the matter their highest priority. The judges are accepting briefs on the case through Friday afternoon from attorneys representing the 29 parties involved in the lawsuit.

Should the new maps result in a candidate who has filed for office to no longer be in the desired district that the secretary of state's office would contact them individually to make any necessary changes in their filing papers, Kobach said.

"This is uncharted territory. The Legislature has put everybody in a pinch because they didn't get their work done," he said.


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