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SPOTLIGHT
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Waiting to see who will run

Published on -5/13/2014, 10:02 AM

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We have three weeks to the deadline for filing for office in the state, and many of us Statehouse insiders are watching every day to see who has filed, who hasn't and who just might have filed as part of a ruse to select their successors.

The statewide state offices, of course, are filling up. Only Republican Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is retiring, meaning whatever happens, there's going to be a new face there.

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach hasn't filed, though his Democratic opponent, former state Sen. and former Republican Jean Schodorf of Wichita, has filed. Kobach? He could just wander downstairs in his office building on a coffee break and sign up.

Neither of the likely main party gubernatorial contenders -- Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and Democratic House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence -- formally has filed yet. Neither has Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, though his Democratic challenger, A.J. Kotich, has. Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes has filed, and he's alone in the race so far.

But we figure the statewide offices will take care of themselves. It's the Kansas House where the insiders' curiosity is focused.

There have been a few announcements of retirement from the House, notably its experienced tax chairman Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, and of course Davis, who can't be on the ballot twice in case his gubernatorial bid goes south.

But when business closed down Friday, there were 23 House members who either hadn't filed or formally announced they won't seek another term.

And it is the House members -- remember the full Senate isn't up for election this year, just two races there due to retirements -- we're watching.

Some very frankly were recruited two years ago in a hurry after a federal court reapportioned state districts, and both parties scrambled for candidates. This year, they all know the boundaries of their districts and incumbents can decide whether they actually are having a good time in Topeka, or whether they'd rather be home to carry out the trash.

But what many are watching for on filing deadline day are those slam-bam removal/replacements that can, with a little secret planning, see a filed candidate -- especially one without an opposite party challenger -- virtually appoint his or her successor.

It happened a few years ago when a Senate member who had filed withdrew his candidacy and a friend filed moments before the deadline for an unopposed run for office. It's a switcheroo that just might occur again this year.

There are some incumbents who just aren't having a good time who have filed, ready for the switch if they choose. And some incumbents haven't filed and are so far unopposed. That last-minute stuff can mean a candidate files just before the noon June 2 deadline and virtually be guaranteed election.

But, remember, sine die adjournment of the Legislature is May 30, and some of those unfiled House members just might be waiting -- because the state pays their mileage to come to Topeka for the final adjournment.

Syndicated by Hawver News Co.

of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report.

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