Registered Republican Mason Ruder, Hays, has three political signs in his front yard on Lawrence Drive, with the idea of encouraging others to look at the candidates running for office in the Nov. 6 general election.
Ruder, 27, has one sign each for the candidates he’s supporting: Kris Kobach for the governor’s race, Barb Wasinger for state representative for the 111th District, and Scott Schwab for secretary of state.
He’s made his choices and said he hopes others will dig into the issues and make their’s. “Vote for whoever works out for you,” he said. “Whoever aligns most with your values.”
“Get out and vote,” Ruder said. “it’s very important.”
Ruder is one of 17,797 eligible voters in Ellis County. According to the official voting rolls in the Ellis County Clerk’s office as of Monday, 8,736 of those are Republicans, said Judy Werth, administrative assistant in the office. The remainder are Democrats, 4,071 voters, unaffiliated, 4,791 voters, and Libertarians, 199 voters, Werth said.
Those numbers may change by the end of the day today, when registration to vote in the general election officially closes.
The Ellis County Republican party will introduce its party’s candidates to the party faithful at a “Red Wave Gala” Thursday in Union Pacific Park’s open-air Downtown Pavilion at 10th and Main streets.
“It will be a celebration and an introduction of our candidates and a fundraiser for the GOP,” said Dustin Roths, Hays, newly named chair of the Ellis County Republican Party. “We want to have a nice, fun night and raise a little money at the same time.”
Tickets are $20 each and capped at 100 for the event, which runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and includes a supper served by Smokin Co. BBQ, Hays.
“I think I have 12 tickets left,” said Roths, who is also the owner of Diamond R Jewelry Corp. in downtown Hays.
On Monday, the forecast for Thursday was for 55 degrees, he said. If the weather turns bad the venue will be switched to an alternative that will be announced on the GOP’s Facebook page.
Confirmed candidates include 1st District Rep. Roger Marshall; Rick Billinger, candidate for the 40th Senate District; Rick Billinger; 110th District Rep. Ken Rahjes; Barb Wasinger, candidate for the 111th District; and possibly 109th District Rep. Troy Waymaster and Butch Schlyer, candidate for Ellis County Commission. It was hoped governor candidate Kris Kobach would attend, but he’ll be in Wichita with Vice President Mike Pence.
“We had hoped to have Kris Kobach,” Roths said. “But it was us against the Vice President, and we didn’t think we could win that one — we couldn’t pull rank on the Vice President.”
Both the challengers and the incumbents will speak at the event for about five minutes each on their platform. As far as Roths is aware, this is the first time for the party to host a gala. The idea, he said, was modeled off party functions in some of the larger metro areas of Kansas, specifically Johnson and Sedgwick counties.
“We want it to be a fun event,” Roths said, “that allows the party to have a little more influence through the election cycle.” Party volunteers traditionally have gone door to door to promote the candidates, sometimes work a call center, gather data for the state GOP, and show up at the county fair and walk in parades.
Providing signs like those in Ruder’s yard are also a large part of the local party’s function, and Roths says he and the other volunteers have been doing a lot of that lately, coordinating with landowners, and putting large and small posters on frames.
“I’ve been helping put up signs like crazy,” Roths said. “You never realize how much work it is.”