Sen. Marci Francisco trying to get to the bottom of how someone filed for her to run as a No Labels candidate, against her wishes

photo by: Journal-World File Photo

State Sen. Marci Francisco is pictured in this 2018 file photo.

Since 2005, Lawrence lawmaker Marci Francisco has been serving in the Kansas Legislature — always as a Democrat.

So, it was a surprise when on Monday — the last day for candidates to file for upcoming November elections — the Kansas Secretary of State’s website showed that Francisco had filed to run for her Kansas Senate seat as a member of the No Labels Party.

Among those most surprised was Francisco. In an interview with the Journal-World, she said she did not file any paperwork to run on the No Labels ticket, nor did she authorize anyone to file such paperwork on her behalf.

Francisco, back in January, already had filed for reelection to the Kansas Senate as a Democrat. That filing is still valid and is the one that Francisco actually backs.

“I’m running as a Democrat,” Francisco said in a phone interview with the Journal-World. “I did not request or approve of this filing by the No Labels committee.”

But — despite her wishes — Francisco also may appear on the November general election ballot as a candidate under the No Labels Party. Francisco said the Kansas Secretary of State’s office has not invalidated the filing that lists her as a candidate for the No Labels Party, even though Francisco did not give any permission for her name to be submitted.

“They simply are saying that they do not do a lot to interfere with party activity,” Francisco said.

Whether Francisco’s name ends up on the ballot under the No Labels ticket could be quite significant. Francisco is facing a primary contest in August against fellow Lawrence lawmaker Christina Haswood, who currently represents a portion of Lawrence in the Kansas House of Representatives.

Whichever Democrat wins the primary would be heavily favored to win the general election because the district — Senate District 2 — has many more registered Democrats than Republicans. However, there is a Republican who has filed for the seat. David Miller, a Lawrence Republican, filed for the seat Monday, on deadline day.

If Francisco were to lose the primary election to Haswood, and Francisco’s name remained on the ballot in the general election, that potentially could create a situation where the Democratic vote would be split between those two candidates, giving the Republican in the field a better chance at victory.

But, would Francisco’s name appear on the November ballot in such a scenario? That’s not currently clear. The Kansas Secretary of State’s office — which accepted the candidate filing listing Francisco as a No Labels candidate — did not provide a clear answer. In an email to the Journal-World, it referenced a specific statute — KSA 25-306e — as the governing law in the matter. It appears to give Francisco seven days to decide whether to run as a Democrat or on the No Labels ticket.

However, it is not clear to me when the seven-day period begins: At the time of the filing, which was Monday, or at the time that the primary election results are finalized, which will be in August. I believe it is the latter, but have not been able to confirm that. A spokeswoman with the Secretary of State’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about that issue, and others.

One of the other issues I inquired about is who filed the paperwork listing Francisco as a No Labels candidate. That is not clear. Francisco speculated that a prominent Republican strategist in the state made the filing, but the Journal-World hasn’t been able to confirm who filed the paperwork.

What is clear is that Francisco — and likely others — are surprised that you evidently can sign someone else up to be a candidate, even if you don’t have permission from that individual. Seemingly, there is no law that requires a candidate to sign the filing paperwork.

Francisco said there probably should be such a law, if there is not one already.

“This is how laws get made,” Francisco said. “Things happen and then people say ‘this is not what I wanted to have happen.'”

As for what Francisco intends to do next, she said she will ask for her name to be removed as a candidate with the No Labels party, whenever she is legally allowed to do so. But as noted above, that may not be until after the primary election.

“I don’t want to be on the general election ballot, except as running for the Democratic Party,” Francisco said.

Obviously, there is more to learn about this situation, and I’ll provide an update if information becomes clearer. Explanations are probably going to be sought by many because as Francisco said: “This really would make stuff very strange if everybody can just say this person is on the ballot with this party.”


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