Kansas elections panel to hear challenges to 3 candidates, including case where 2 have the same name
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TOPEKA — A three-member state panel will meet on Monday to hear challenges involving three candidates on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.
The highest-profile challenge involves the 4th District congressional race, where incumbent U.S. Rep. Ron Estes is being challenged by another Republican whose name also is Ron Estes.
To distinguish them, the Kansas secretary of state’s office recently decided to list them as “Rep. Ron Estes” and “Ron M. Estes.”
But a Democratic candidate in that race, Laura Lombard, has objected to using the incumbent congressman’s title as part of his name, saying it gives him an unfair advantage.
She also notes that Kansas law prohibits the use of titles or other symbols of accomplishment, occupation or qualification on the ballot.
The second objection involves the 85th District House race, and the outcome of that objection could decide the outcome of the race, flipping a seat from Republican to Democratic.
Incumbent Rep. Chuck Weber, a Republican, had filed for re-election, but he withdrew from the race just before the June 1 filing deadline and announced that he would resign his seat after accepting a job as executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.
Minutes after Weber withdrew, Republican Michael Capps, who had previously filed in the 97th District where another incumbent is stepping down, withdrew from that race, changed his voter registration to a different address, then filed to run in the 85th District.
The Democrat in that race, Monica Marks, has objected, citing a provision of the Kansas Constitution that says anyone running for or holding office in the Legislature “shall be and remain a qualified elector who resides in his or her district.”
The objection notes that while Capps was listed in Sedgwick County records as the owner of the home in the 85th District at the time he filed, it was currently vacant and had been foreclosed upon and the Sedgwick County District Court had issued a notice of sale of the property.
That notice of sale had been delivered to Capps at that address, but it was returned to the court as undeliverable because nobody was living there, according to Marks’ objection, which was filed on her behalf by an attorney, Rep. Vic Miller, D-Topeka.
Capps and Marks are currently listed as the only candidates in that race. That means if Capps is disqualified, barring any independent candidate getting into the race before the Aug. 6 deadline, Marks could win the seat by default.
The third objection to be heard Monday challenges the candidacy of a man calling himself “Vermin Supreme,” who filed as a Republican in the attorney general’s race.
Shortly before the filing deadline on June 1, Supreme showed up at the secretary of state’s office wearing a boot as a hat and a tutu around his waist, saying he was running in order to correct a number of issues that he said were injustices. He also said he is not an attorney.
On his filing form, Supreme listed an address in Rockport, Mass. Jim Joyce, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, filed an objection to him being on the ballot “based off of residency.”
Currently, there are no constitutional or statutory qualifications for the office of attorney general. Lawmakers passed a law this year requiring the attorney general to be a Kansas resident and a licensed attorney, but that law does not take effect until January 2019.
Those cases will be presented to a panel known as the Objections Board, which is made up of the secretary of state, attorney general and lieutenant governor or their designees. The board is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. Monday.