COLBY — For the first time since 1998, Kansas Democrats have a contested race for their nomination for governor, and the candidates will be in northwest Kansas for a forum Saturday.

The moderated forum will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the Cultural Arts Center on the Colby Community College campus.

The full field of six candidates are scheduled to attend, said Ethan Corson, Kansas Democratic Party executive director.

“For nearly a generation, we’ve not had a competitive primary from the Democratic side” Corson said.

In 1998, Rep. Tom Sawyer of Wichita soundly defeated Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, for the nomination. Sawyer was defeated by Republican Bill Graves, a Salina businessman who served two terms as governor.

Corson said it’s important for the party to come to the region.

“For us, we think it’s important to send the message that we’re going to be a party that’s going to compete in all 105 counties. Our candidates are running to be governor for all Kansans, and that means campaigning and talking to voters in all parts of the state,” he said.

Those running for the Democratic nomination and who are scheduled to appear at the forum are:

• Carl Brewer, former mayor of Wichita.

• State Sen. Larua Kelly of the 18th District.

• Josh Svaty, former state Secretary of Agriculture and former state representative.

• Rep. Jim Ward of the 86th District, House Minority Leader.

• Arden Andersen, a Lansing physician and member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

• Robert Klingenberg, a salesman from Salina.