2020 Voters Guide: Many candidates for state and county offices will go unchallenged in November general election

photo by: Nick Krug/Journal-World File Photo

A collection of "I voted" stickers is pictured at the Douglas County Courthouse in this file photo from Nov. 3, 2016.

While the 2020 general election will decide many major political races, a lot of local candidates won’t face challengers on Nov. 3.

In Douglas County, 11 state and county races on the ballot will be uncontested — either those races were decided between candidates during the primary election in August, or only one candidate filed to run for the seat. In addition, one Democratic lawmaker won’t face any Republican opponent, but he will face a challenger from another party.

Even if a candidate has no opponent listed on the ballot for their race, it is possible they could be challenged through a write-in campaign.

Here’s a quick rundown of these races:


Christina Haswood, House District 10:

Haswood won a three-candidate Democratic primary election in August. She is a registered member of the Navajo Nation and received her associate degree in community health from Haskell Indian Nations University. She currently works as a research assistant with the National Council of Urban Indian Health and the Center for American Indian Community Health.

Lance Neelly, House District 42:

Neelly, a security and corrections worker, defeated incumbent Rep. Jim Karleskint in the Republican primary election. Neelly’s recent victory reversed the result of the 2018 primary election, in which he was defeated by Karleskint.

Barbara Ballard, House District 44:

Ballard, a long-serving state representative of Lawrence, was not challenged in the Democratic primary election in August and she will go unchallenged again in the general election. She has served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 1993 and will serve her 15th term as the 44th District representative. Ballard also serves as an administrator at the University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics.

Mike Amyx, Kansas House District 45:

Amyx, who was first elected to represent the 45th District in 2018, did not face a Democratic challenger in the 2020 primary election. He will serve his second term in the Kansas Statehouse. Amyx previously served on the Lawrence City Commission, including six terms as mayor, and on the Douglas County Commission.

Marci Francisco, Senate District 2:

Francisco, who was first elected to represent District 2 in 2004, did not face a challenger in the Democratic primary election. She will serve her fifth term in the state Senate. Francisco previously served on the Lawrence City Commission and as the city’s mayor for two terms.

Dennis “Boog” Highberger, House District 46:

Highberger, of Lawrence, was unopposed in the Democratic primary election, and he will not face a Republican challenger in the general election. However, he will face a Lawrence Libertarian candidate, Dante Javaheri. If Highberger is reelected, he will serve his fourth term as the 46th District representative. He was first elected in 2014 and previously served on the Lawrence City Commission and as the city’s mayor.

Ann Mah, State Board of Education District 4:

Mah, of Topeka, is seeking her second term on the Kansas State Board of Education, which she was first elected to in 2016. She did not face a challenger in the Democratic primary election. Mah served in the state House of Representatives for eight years prior to running for the board.


Lt. Jay Armbrister, Douglas County sheriff:

Armbrister, of Baldwin City, won a three-candidate race in the Democratic primary election. He has worked for the sheriff’s office for 22 years, since August 1998, and currently serves as lieutenant in corrections, where he works full-time at the Douglas County Jail.

Suzanne Valdez, Douglas County district attorney:

Valdez, of Lawrence, won a three-candidate race in the Democratic primary election, which included knocking off incumbent District Attorney Charles Branson. She currently teaches prosecutorial ethics as a full-time professor at the University of Kansas School of Law. She is also a special prosecutor for the Wyandotte County DA’s office, handling cases that involve conflicts of interest for that office’s staff.

Jamie Shew, Douglas County clerk:

Shew went unchallenged in the Democratic primary election. He was first elected as the county clerk, which is the county’s top election officer, in 2004.

Adam Rains, Douglas County treasurer:

Rains, who served as deputy county treasurer from 2015 until September, defeated challenger Timothy Morland in the Democratic primary election. Rains and Morland were both aiming to fill the seat that was held by Treasurer Paula Gilchrist, who retired in August. Rains has also been appointed to finish out Gilchrist’s term — he was officially sworn into the position on Sept. 22, Shew said.

Kent Brown, Douglas County register of deeds:

Brown, who is currently the deputy register of deeds, defeated challenger Kim Murphree in the Democratic primary election. They were aiming to fill the seat that will be left by current Register of Deeds Kay Pesnell, who plans to retire. Brown has served as the deputy of the office since 2015.


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