TOPEKA — Kansas Leadership Center CEO and former Republican state Rep. Ed O’Malley began his campaign for Kansas governor Tuesday, promising “a better way” after a months-long exploratory process.

O’Malley began his exploratory campaign in January and has had events across the state. He announced his campaign launch last week.

In a release, O’Malley promised the world’s best public school system, a creative and effective state workforce and unifying leadership.

“Over the last eight years, Kansas politics have been on a downward spiral that leaves us on par with dysfunctional D.C.,” O’Malley said. “I know things are headed in the wrong direction.”

O’Malley served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2003 to 2006 representing Roeland Park and has praised centrist politics.

“I know there is a better way. It’s a way that leads to better jobs for us and our neighbors,” O’Malley said. “A better way that leads to cities and towns thriving, rather than shrinking. A better way that leads to pride in our state and our children and grandchildren wanting to make Kansas their home.”

O’Malley has been running the Kansas Leadership Center since he left the Legislature. A news release issued Tuesday touted O’Malley’s political experience and running the leadership center. It criticizes “career politicians.”

“To move Kansas forward, we need a governor who has both the political experience and who has built something of even broader impact and importance,” the release says.

O’Malley joins a large field of Republican gubernatorial candidates that includes Lt. Gov. and governor-to-be Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, former Sen. Jim Barnett, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, former Rep. Mark Hutton and three high school students — Dominic Scavuzzo, Tyler Ruzich and Ethan Randleas.