TOPEKA — Several incumbent Kansas Republican lawmakers announced Tuesday and Wednesday that they will not seek re-election this year, just hours before the noon deadline Wednesday for candidates to file for office.
But Democrats boasted Wednesday about their slate of candidates, noting that for the first time in 30 years, they have candidates in all 40 Senate districts and nearly 75 percent of the 125 House districts.
Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party lined up a total of 12 candidates for the 2016 general elections, including James Houston Bales of Lawrence, a Kansas University law student, who filed to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins in the 2nd congressional district.
In the Senate, Republican Ralph Ostmeyer of Grinnell said Tuesday that he was bowing out of his 40th district race, but would endorse Rep. Rick Billinger of Goodland, who has filed for that seat. Billinger will face Democrat Alex Herman of Hays in the general election.
Also, Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, withdrew from his 32nd district race Wednesday, the same day Republican Larry W. Alley of Winfield filed for that seat. Alley will face Don Shimkus, president of the Kansas Association of School Boards, in the general election.
All told, seven GOP senators have chosen not to run this year. Besides Ostmeyer and Abrams, they include Senate Vice President Jeff King of Independence, Mitch Holmes of St. John, Les Donovan of Wichita, Michael O’Donnell of Wichita, Garrett Love of Montezuma and Kay Wolf of Prairie Village.
Some of the surprising withdrawals Wednesday came from the House, where Rep. Peggy Mast, R- Emporia, the Speaker Pro Tem, and Republican Reps. Tom Moxley of Council Grove and Mario Goico of Wichita announced they would not seek new terms.
Also, Rep. Annie Tietze, D-Topeka, announced she is stepping down from her 53rd district seat. Democrat Jim Gartner, who serves on the Auburn-Washburn school board, filed Wednesday to fill her place on the ballot.
Eric L. Smith, a Republican from Burlington, filed last week to run for Mast’s 76th district House seat. Two Democrats, Teresa Briggs of Reading and Kelly Atherton of Olpe, will face each other in a primary in that district.
All told, 102 candidates, including 53 Republicans, 47 Democrats and two Libertarians, have filed for seats in the Kansas Senate.
There will be Republican primaries in 16 of those districts, including 11 where incumbents are being challenged from within their own party. Among those being challenged are Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Hutchinson, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ty Masterson of Andover, conservative Tom Arpke of Salina and moderate Vicki Schmidt of Topeka.
There will be four Democratic primaries in Senate races, including a four-way primary in Schmidt’s 20th district seat.
In the House, 259 candidates have filed, including 151 Republicans, 103 Democrats and five Libertarians.
There will be 39 Republican primaries in the House, including 22 in which incumbents are being challenged. One of those is Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence, who faces challenger Jeremy Ryan Pierce, who ran against Sloan and lost in 2014.
Also, Rep. Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie, whose district includes Eudora, is being challenged by fellow-Republican Jim Karleskint, also of Tonganoxie.
There will be only seven Democratic primaries in the House, four of which involve incumbents being challenged.
Among those is Rep. Barbara Ballard of Lawrence, who faces Democrat Steven X. Davis in a primary.
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