Everybody loves a parade, especially political candidates during an election year.
With the Kansas primaries exactly a month from Saturday morning’s Wild West Festival parade, 13 candidates took part in the downtown parade.
Some rode in vehicles, like Ellis County Commissioner Marcy McClelland, who waved to the crowds from an antique car, while others worked the crowd, shaking hands and handing out flyers or other trinkets.
Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. A recent straw poll in Olathe showed Selzer third in the GOP race, far behind Gov. Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Selzer said he and running mate Jen Sanderson, a Goodland businesswoman, had been in 10 parades on the Fourth of July.
“We’re hitting the parades hard and fast over the next four weeks. It’s parade season in Kansas. We’re catching a lot of them and it’s a good response,” he said before the parade.
Ellis County Commissioner Barb Wasinger is running as a Republican for the 111th District in the Kansas House and gathered family and friends to walk with her in the parade. Democrat Eber Phelps currently has that seat and is seeking another term.
“I think it really helps. It keeps my name out there and perhaps makes me as visible as my opponent,” she said.
Travis Couture-Lovelady, who served two terms as representative for the 110th district, said appearing at events like a parade can make a difference in a campaign. Couture-Lovelady was walking alongside Wasinger, wearing a T-shirt showing support for her campaign.
“Visibility is important,” he said. “People want to see you. They see your face on a lot of campaign things but they want to see you in person,” he said.
“Plus, it’s just a lot of fun. This is a great way to meet people in a fun way rather than just arguing over politics,” he said.
For Colyer, Saturday’s parade was a way to stay connected to his hometown.
“What’s really kind of fun is after the parade, I get a lot of texts from old classmates and friends,” he said.
“People get to see an entirely different energy level and that we’re out keeping surgeon hours and not politician hours doing the job. It’s a lot of fun” said Colyer, who until taking the governor’s office kept working in his private practice as a plastic surgeon.
Not all candidates entered in the parade were present, however. Kobach had a truck and walkers, and another of his rivals for the Republican nomination, Jim Barnett, had a group led by his co-campaign chair, Maci Hagelgantz, who grew up in Hays. Barnett was at another event in eastern Kansas, she said.
Even though he wasn’t present, she said the name recognition helps.
“We’ve got a lot of great people we’ve met in Hays. Hopefully, they’ll recognize us,” she said.
Tracy Dague, Hays, said candidates appearing at local events can help people know the candidates do get out of Topeka.
“They come out and make their name known, so you follow them,” she said. “Their flyers that they hand out are always nice because you can read up on them.”
Not everybody watching the parade found the candidates’ appearance that important, though.
“Nah, I don’t care,” Danielle Howard said.
More important to her was watching her daughter, Aryel Fry, have fun watching the parade she said.
“Not really,” said Kayla Urban when asked if the candidates’ appearance made a difference for her.
“It’s more about the action,” she said, like the cars that her son, Bennett, 2.5, was excited about.