What’s better than a job that is indoor work for the upcoming two winters, safe and warm and with inside reserved parking and hundreds of lobbyists wanting the chance to buy you lunch or dinner? And, where even if you’re not invited to dinner, if a lobbyist sees you alone at a watering hole, a sharp lobbyist will probably offer to pay for your drinks from across the room.
Does it get much better than that? We didn’t think so.
Well, of the 125 House seats to be filled in the upcoming election cycle, 27 Republicans and 21 Democrats can start planning for that job … without a major-party opponent for re-election.
That’s no need for wearying door-to-door campaigning, probably not a lot of money being spent on signs and letters to voters. It’s just one short of a free ride into office.
Who gets those free rides?
Here’s the list:
Michael Houser, Columbus, Richard Proehl, Parsons, Kent L. Thompson, Iola, Mark Schreiber, Emporia, Francis Awerkamp, St. Marys, John Eplee, Atchison, Lonnie Clark, Junction City, Dave Baker, Council Grove, Diana Dierks, Salina, Les Mason, McPherson, Eric L. Smith, Burlington, Kristey Williams, Augusta, Steve Huebert, Valley Center, Emil Bergquist, Park City (has a Libertarian opponent for general election), Joe Seiwert, Pretty Prairie, Brenda Landwehr, Wichita, Bill Pannbacker, Washington, Steven Johnson, Assaria, Troy Waymaster, Bunker Hill, Tory Marie Arnberger, Great Bend, Boyd Orr, Fowler, Kyle Hoffman, Coldwater, Leonard Mastroni, LaCrosse, Don Hineman, Dighton, Bradley Ralph, Dodge City, Russ Jennings, Lakin, and Shannon Francis, Liberal.
Eileen Horn, Lawrence, Jerry Stogsdill, Prairie Village, Jarrod Ousley, Merriam, Louis Ruiz, Kansas City, Pam Curtis, Kansas City, Tom Burroughs, Kansas City (has a Libertarian opponent for general election), Valdenia Winn, Kansas City, Broderick Henderson, Kansas City, Stan Frownfelter, Kansas City, Barbara Ballard, Lawrence, Jim Gartner, Topeka, John Alcala, Topeka, Vic “T-Bone” Miller, Topeka, Sydney Carlin, Manhattan (has a Libertarian opponent for general election), Gail Finney, Wichita, Elizabeth Bishop, Wichita, John Carmichael, Wichita, Tom Sawyer, Wichita, Brandon Whipple, Wichita, Jason Probst, Hutchinson, and Ponka-We Victors, Wichita.
Yes, there are a few races with Libertarian legislative candidates, which were selected at the party’s convention this spring. The Libertarians approved a total of six candidates, who will appear just on the November general election ballot, but those Libertarians, for all the hands-off government that they campaign about (oh, and generally legalization of marijuana), they usually wind up with less than 10 percent of the vote, which still leaves the Free Ride 48 in pretty comfortable shape.
Now, while those free ride candidates don’t have much in the way of opposition, the smart ones campaign as though they had an opponent, so their voters feel that their votes are valuable and cherished by the unopposed.
Yes, there will be some door-to-dooring, and it probably doesn’t hurt to have a sign or two up in prominent locations, so their constituents feel that their votes are important.
And in recent House campaigns some candidates have spent tens of thousands of dollars on campaigns, just so their constituents feel valued. They attend the parades, and without an opponent breathing down their neck, tend to toss a little better-than-expected candy to voters’ children and grandchildren.
Never hurts to be a little extra-nice … might mean that two years from now, they’ll be unopposed again. There are some House members who haven’t had a political opponent in several election cycles.
But that means they must fairly represent their district and do their duties well enough that nobody else is going to pony up the $120 in fees to get on the ballot to challenge them.
The Free Ride 48? Most of them earned the title by good work for their constituents.
Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report.