Anger with the state government and national politics has inspired more competition in Kansas, both from Democrats and independents, threatening to change the election map by jeopardizing one of the reddest states.
According to the Kansas Democratic Party, they are fielding candidates in the U.S. Senate race, 4 of 5 U.S. House races, all 40 state senate races, and about 75% of the 125 state house races. This represents one of the most active election seasons from the Democrats, challenging more seats than usual because of the greater interest from candidates.
The Kansas Libertarian Party is also fielding candidates to challenge the open U.S. Senate seat, 4 of 5 U.S. House races, 2 state senate races, 5 state house seats, and one magistrate judgeship. This is also an uptick in activity from 2014.
Several independents are running, but have not been certified by the secretary of state’s office from the petitioning process.
Al Zahnter is running for the U.S. Senate. Zahnter seems to be a political newcomer.
Alan LaPolice is running for the 1st Congressional District (the one seat the Democrats are not challenging this year) as a conservative independent. LaPolice ran as a Republican last election cycle, defeated in the primary by the current incumbent by 10-points.
Miranda Allen is running for the 4th Congressional District, running with a fiscally responsible, socially tolerant platform. She is a businesswoman with no significant political background, but has been active in community and business programs in the state.
It should be clear by early July if these three independents will gather enough support in their petitions to certify for the general election.
What is causing all of the political activity?
Simply put, anger.
For the past two years, IVN has reported on voter suppression issues, possible balloting fraud, a fight over school funding with the state supreme court, and unpopular tax cuts in Kansas — all creating an atmosphere that is exceptionally unfriendly to the incumbents.
When the Republican Party controls the majority in all four major races (plus the governorship, not up for election), they are taking the bulk of the anger from candidates and voters.
Regardless of the reason, competition is a good sign politically in a state where many of the seats are left unchallenged as ‘safe’ Republican seats.
But the ‘upballot’ damage is already starting to happen.
John Zogby Strategies, a reputable pollster, has released a new study showing Clinton with a 7-point lead, with 21-percent still undecided.
While it is very early in the general election, this is the first time since 1964 that a Democrat has ever even polled higher than a Republican presidential candidate at any point in the election season.
Independents nationwide didn’t see the ‘perfect storm’ approaching in time
It’s very hard to get on the ballot in most states as an independent, with most requiring a petition with anywhere from 1,000 to 25,000 signatures to be certified for the election.
But there are also deadlines to get this done, most of which have passed in the majority of states.
In what has become the ‘perfect storm’ politically in 2016, not enough independents nationwide saw the opportunity before it was too late — and many voters still want other options.
Kansas is only one of many states with the same political turmoil. States like Louisiana have recently seen party flips in key seats, and may turn blue for the presidential election.
The lesson for 2018 for independents is clear — challenge as many seats nationwide and get a head start on the certification process, regardless of what the early prospects might look like.
Because both parties are going to come out of 2016 damaged, 2018 might be the year of the independents to make significant headway in the off-year election.