Kansas candidates focused on schools, affordability, rural investment
By LILY O’SHEA BECKER
Candidates who have entered races
ahead of the filing deadline plan to focus their campaigns on bringing
attention to rural Kansas, free school lunches, affordable gas and
getting Kansas “back on track.”
Some rushed to make a last-minute
filing at the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday, including
Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who revealed his running mate on the GOP
ticket for governor, while others had previously filed. The deadline
for some races was extended from June 1 to June 10 because of
Jose Lara drove from Liberal to
Topeka on Wednesday to file as a Democrat for the Kansas Senate in the
38th District. Lara, who is currently a Shelter Insurance agent and city
commissioner, hopes to bring more attention to southwest Kansas.
“The biggest focus is going to be economics,” Lara said.
He believes not enough state funding is appropriated to small and rural communities. Lara referred to the BASE Grant program,
which he said issued most of its funding to Kansas’ larger cities. The
Kansas Department of Commerce BASE Grant program aims to develop
infrastructure and economic opportunities throughout Kansas.
Lara’s filing is part of a special
election. He is running against GOP incumbent Ronald Ryckman Sr., who
was appointed to fill former Sen. Bud Estes’ seat after he died in
A married couple also appeared at the
Secretary of State’s Office to file. Robert Klingenberg, who had
already filed, is a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, while his
wife, Molly Molina, filed to run for the Kansas House as a Democrat in
the 69th District.
Molina said she decided on Tuesday
she wanted to file. She expected a Democrat would file in her district,
and when they did not, she decided she needed to.
Molina, who works in food services at
Salina Regional Health Center, said her biggest focus would be to
provide universal school lunches and afternoon meals to students across
the state of Kansas.
At the beginning of the pandemic,
Congress signed federal waivers allowing schools to provide free meals
to children. This waiver is due to expire on June 30 if lawmakers do not
agree to extend the waivers.
Klingenberg agrees with Molina on several policies.
“In Kansas, especially in
southeastern and a lot of areas of southwestern (Kansas), there are food
deserts. There are a lot of children — just children, not even talking
about families — who are hungry,” Klingenberg said.
According to FeedingAmerica, 1 in 6 children in Kansas face hunger, yet in southeast Kansas it is 1 in 4 children.
Klingenberg, who says he has been
criticized for having too big of a platform, is labor-focused because of
his working-class background. Klingenberg worked as a Frito-Lay driver
for years and has experience as a salesman.
He also believes in universal
Medicare, universal housing and universal education. Klingenberg would
also focus on rural investment, as he said “progressive leftists don’t
talk about it much.”
Another newcomer is John A.
McCaughrean. McCaughrean filed to run as a Republican for the U.S. House
for the 3rd District. The seat is currently held by Democratic U.S.
Rep. Sharice Davids, who is running for re-election. Amanda Adkins is
also seeking the GOP nomination for the seat.
McCaughrean, who served in the U.S.
Army for 10 years, has dubbed his campaign the “most motivated veteran
campaign” and is focused on reinstating “a constitutional republic.”
McCaughrean said the Founding Fathers
never mentioned the word “democracy” in the constitution, and that the
United States is constitutionally a republic form of government.
According to McCaughrean, a republic form of government means states
compete with one another.
“The essence of this constitutional
republic is the states fighting over who has better philosophy, better
ideas, and the federal government stays out of the way of this,”
McCaughrean said he believes in a citizen government and “restoring the country back to the people in the states.”
Two of McCaughrean’s focuses are national security and making gas, food and utilities affordable.
“Talking to a whole bunch of my
friends and a whole bunch of blue collar workers I work with out here,
they’re feeling it,” McCaughrean said while talking about the spike in
McCaughrean said sheriffs in the 3rd
District have told him there has been an uptick in drug and cartel
movements within the last couple of years.
“So, we need to make sure our borders
are secure. We want as many awesome, beautiful people that want to come
to this country to come in, but want to keep the bad guys out,” he
McCaughrean said he is not a candidate for the party, but rather it is his job to be there for Kansas’ 3rd District.
Schmidt and his family entered the Secretary of State’s Office Wednesday morning to make a last-minute file.
He was accompanied by Katie Sawyer — his running mate and former
staffer of U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall — and her husband and two young
Many were surprised by Schmidt’s
running mate choice. Schmidt said it is “nice” to be running with a
young family, alluding to Sawyer’s comparably younger age of 38. Schmidt
is 54 years old.
“We want young families to decide to stay here, to return here, to come here,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt and Sawyer are focused on reversing and revising Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s work over the last four years.
“The focus of running in this race is
to leave Kansas better than we found it, and to do that we have to
elect a Republican governor in November,” Schmidt said.
Sawyer said they would get Kansas “back on track.”
If elected, Schmidt said he would
focus on middle class tax relief, community safety efforts, and ensuring
Kansas has the best schools, including trade schools and universities.
Because of the additional time courts
took to review the redistricting of Kansas this year, candidates for
the Legislature, Congress and Kansas Board of Education have an extended
deadline to file until June 10.
“We get to do this all over again
next week,” Secretary of State Scott Schwab said before striking down a
gavel at noon Wednesday to declare the deadline for statewide offices.