Lawrence Democrat Buskirk pivots to U.S. House bid after unsuccessful run for Senate seat

photo by: Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector

Paul Buskirk, a Lawrence Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2022, said he would file as a 2024 candidate for U.S. House in the 1st District currently served by Republican U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann.

TOPEKA — Democrat Paul Buskirk got a taste of Kansas politics during a 2022 campaign for U.S. Senate and plans to build on that experience by turning his attention in 2024 to a bid for the U.S. House seat held by Republican Tracey Mann.

Buskirk, who works as a special adviser in the University of Kansas athletics department, said he would seek the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 1st District in the Aug. 6 primary. The district stretches from his hometown of Lawrence to the Colorado border. Mann, of Salina, has represented the predominately rural 1st District since elected in 2020.

Buskirk said too much of government was controlled by “self-serving and arrogant” people uninterested in serving the whole of their constituency. The tendency of politicians to prioritize party over country had to be reversed, he said.

“President Lincoln referenced government as ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.’ Many officials, appointed or elected, hold tightly to ideology, political party and their own welfare with little regard for governing ‘for the people.’ I want to change that,” Buskirk said.

He said motivation to run for the House was drawn from evidence of the federal government’s “inability to function, political extremism, ongoing discrimination, economic uncertainty, and growing evidence of children and families living in borderline poverty.”

The 1st District deserved representation from someone committed to serving all Kansans, he said.

“If we want what is best for our children and their children, and we want to pass along to them our education, our businesses and farms, our values and our wisdom, then we must unite to create a legacy for our children. Government must be reminded that it exists to serve us all,” he said.

Mann served Kansas briefly as lieutenant governor with Gov. Jeff Colyer before running for Congress. In 2020, he won a four-person GOP primary with 54% of the vote. He prevailed in the general election with 71.2% of votes against Democratic nominee Kali Barnett.

In the 2022 election, Mann defeated Democrat James Beard with 67.7% of ballots cast.

Boundaries of the conservative district have changed over the past 60 years, but the 1st District has been served by a succession of Republicans during that time. Voters in the district elected Mann, Roger Marshall, Tim Huelskamp, Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts, Keith Sebelius and Robert Dole. Marshall and Moran currently represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate.

— Tim Carpenter reports for Kansas Reflector.


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