Editorial: McClendon for secretary of state
photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach spent the past eight years making Kansas one of the most difficult places in the United States to exercise the right to vote. He pushed through some of the nation’s strictest voter registration laws, disenfranchised tens of thousands of Kansas voters and spent significant taxpayer dollars unsuccessfully defending his policies in court.
No state office is in greater need of a change in direction than secretary of state, and that makes Democrat Brian McClendon the clear choice for the office in the Nov. 6 election. Other candidates are Republican Scott Schwab and Libertarian Ron Hodgkinson.
McClendon, a Lawrence native and former Google and Uber executive, brings the technology background and experience necessary to make voter registration more accessible, to make voting easier, to see that voter information is kept secure and to ensure elections are run smoothly.
Most importantly, McClendon recognizes the negative impact Kobach’s hyper-partisan suppression tactics have had on state elections. By contrast, Schwab, a state representative from Olathe, maintained in a debate Monday that he supports much of Kobach’s approach.
McClendon supports election-day voter registration. Schwab does not. McClendon believes the state should abandon its appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that Kobach’s voter registration law was unconstitutional. Schwab supports the law and the appeal. McClendon sees promoting voting and increasing voter participation as a mission of the secretary of state’s office. Schwab does not.
McClendon is a political newcomer and said he does not have higher political aspirations. He said he is uniquely qualified “from a technology and leadership perspective” to serve as Kansas secretary of state and to make voting easier and better for Kansans. As an example, he cited his role in helping develop KSVotes.org, a nonpartisan website that thousands of Kansans have used to register to vote and/or update their voter registration information.
Kobach used the secretary of state’s office as a political pulpit to promote himself and to restrict voting for partisan gain. The best way for Kansans to put the Kobach era in their rearview mirror is to elect McClendon as their next secretary of state.
Endorsements in other races for state offices are below.
• Attorney general: Republican Derek Schmidt has proved to be pragmatic and reasoned in two terms as Kansas attorney general. He merits another term over Democrat Sarah Swain, of Lawrence.
• State treasurer: Democrat Marci Francisco, a former Lawrence mayor who has served in the state Senate since 2005, has the legislative experience necessary to succeed as state treasurer. She is our choice over Republican Jacob LaTurner, who was appointed to the treasurer’s role in 2017 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback.
• Insurance commissioner: Republican Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka pharmacist who has served as a state senator since 2005, should replace Ken Selzer as insurance commissioner. She faces Democrat Nathaniel McLaughlin, of Kansas City.