State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, confirmed Monday that she is considering a run for Kansas Secretary of State next year.
Francisco, a Democrat, said that others have encouraged her to look at the race. But she said she will not make a decision until after the Nov. 7 municipal elections in order to avoid voter confusion.
The Secretary of State's office will be an open contest in 2018 because the incumbent, Kris Kobach, is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Francisco could run for the office without risking her Senate seat because that seat isn't up for re-election until 2020.
Francisco, 67, was first elected to the Senate in 2004. She was just re-elected to her fourth term in 2016. She also served on the Lawrence City Commission from 1979 to 1983.
If she enters the race, she would be the first Democrat to do so, although she said other Democrats are looking at the race as well. No Democrat has won a statewide or congressional race in Kansas since 2006. That was the year Kathleen Sebelius was re-elected governor, Dennis Moore was re-elected to the 3rd District congressional seat, and Paul Morrison, a Republican-turned-Democrat, was elected attorney general.
So far, three Republicans have formed campaign committees to run for the office. They include Rep. Keith Esau of Olathe, House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab, also of Olathe, and Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold of Wichita.
Meredith Richey of Perry has filed as a Republican to challenge incumbent Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence.
According to the Secretary of State's website, Richey filed on Thursday, Oct. 15, but did not provide any type of phone number or email address.
Francisco was first elected to the 2nd District Senate seat in 2004 when she defeated Republican Mark Buhler, who had been appointed to replace Sandy Praeger who'd been elected insurance commissioner two years earlier. She won her last re-election bid in 2012, 65-35 percent, over Republican Ronald B. Ellis.
The 2nd District includes most of Lawrence and northern Douglas County, as well as most of Jefferson County to the north.
Two years ago, Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill that prohibits private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortions in their general plans except when a woman's life is in danger.
Under the law, Kansas residents or employers who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders.
But Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said she tried to purchase such an optional rider under the state health insurance plan, but it was not available.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed that the state health insurance plan does not offer that coverage as an optional rider.
Francisco, a supporter of abortion rights, said, "I was going to encourage women to do it because the more women of my age who sign up, the cheaper it is going to be for everybody, so then you just make it something that people can afford." Francisco is 62.
The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged that law, saying that women's medical needs should be covered in their insurance policies. Supporters of the law said people who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to pay for such coverage in general health plan.
The ACLU dropped its lawsuit earlier this year after a federal judge had ruled that the group had failed to prove that the Legislature's motivation in passing the law was to make it more difficult to get abortions.