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2016 a Historic Year for Third Party, Independent Ballot Access in Kansas

by David Yee, published

Not since 2008 has the Libertarian Party been this active in Kansas politics, with a candidate challenging all four congressional districts, the Senate seat, and the presidency in the same election year -- and 2016 may in fact turn out to be a record year for minor party and independent candidates.

But with the 'winds of political change' being fueled by a resentment of Republican Governor Sam Brownback's 'great Laffer Curve experiment,' 2016 may be the best chance yet of scoring big at the ballot box.

The Libertarians challenging the federal seats are:

Johnson/Weld; POTUS

Robert D. Garrard; U.S. Senate

Kerry Burt; U.S. House 1

James Houston Bales; U.S. House 2

Steven A. Hohe; U.S. House 3

Gorden J. Bakken; U.S. House 4

Two independents are challenging U.S. House seats as well, but have not had their petitions certified by the secretary of state's office as of today:

Alan LaPolice; U.S. House 1

Miranda Allen; U.S. House 4

This is historic ballot activity in Kansas, one of the reddest of red states.

It's been 142 years since an independent candidate claimed more than 10 percent of the vote in a Kansas U.S. House race, with Kansas maintaining at least one Republican House member since statehood (and the longest Republican Senate streak nationally).

But 2016 might be just the year to buck these historical trends -- interest in Johnson/Weld could have significant down-ballot effect, while independents willing to break with partisanship have gained a strong appeal.

Much of this activity can be attributed to the path laid out by Greg Orman, an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014, whose public interest forced the national Republican Party to swoop in with millions of dollars to defend what was once considered an 'ultra-safe' Senate seat.

Orman showed that Kansas voters were interested in more choices than just the two-party duopoly, but his campaign also highlighted the 5 primary strategies the major parties use to 'deal with' independents and minor party candidates.

Kansas politics are interesting nationally because if the reddest of states can be felled by minor party and independent political activity, it will work for the voters in any state in the union.

Because in the end, voters want more choices -- and this year's election in Kansas has more options than any modern election year, with choices outside the two-party duopoly for all federal seats.

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