TOPEKA — A Democratic state senator from Lawrence formed an exploratory committee and appointed a treasurer Thursday to move forward with a campaign for Kansas secretary of state.
The position is being vacated by Republican Kris Kobach, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor in 2018. The secretary of state is the chief elections officer.
Sen. Marci Francisco, who has represented Lawrence in the Legislature since 2004, said she was drawn to the race because Kobach had “put politics above service, raised incompetency in government to new levels and worked to undermine free and fair elections.”
She’s the second Democrat to set the foundation of a campaign, following Lenexa high school student Lucy Steyer. Nathaniel McLaughlin, a former state president of the NAACP and 2016 candidate for the U.S. House, said he intended to seek the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.
“I do intend to file,” said McLaughlin, of Kansas City, Kan. “That filing will occur no later than mid-January.”
On the Republican side of the ledger, three candidates are competing for the nomination for secretary of state. They are Reps. Scott Schwab and Keith Esau, both of Olathe, and Sedgwick County Clerk Kelly Arnold, who is chairman of the Kansas Republican Party.
Francisco said she was disturbed by flawed implementation of state election law reforms and worried personal information of Kansans in possession of the secretary of state’s office was vulnerable to hacking.
“It’s time to restore Kansas values and common sense to the secretary of state’s office,” Francisco said. “Every citizen has the right to vote. Every business should receive quality service. Integrity, honesty and service should be the principles of that office.”
Francisco was a member of the Lawrence City Commission from 1979 to 1983. She worked at the University of Kansas until retiring in 2012.