HESSTON - State Rep. Don Schroeder, R-Hesston, said Monday he hasn’t decided whether he will run for re-election this year.

If he does, he will face a challenge in the August 7 primary from Hesston businessman Stephen Owens, who regards himself as more conservative politically than Schroeder.

Owens collected signatures to file by petition and delivered the petition Thursday to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office in Topeka. As of Monday afternoon, he had not heard if the signatures had been verified, but he said he collected more than the minimum required 159 signatures from registered Republicans in the 74th House District.

Schroeder said he is focused on the legislative session and he normally decides whether to seek re-election after the adjournment of the regular session. That will occur April 6.

The 74th covers portions of Harvey, McPherson, and Marion counties. Schroeder, 66 and a farmer, won his first term in the House in 2006. He faced Republican and/or Democratic opponents every two years until 2012. He ran unopposed that year and in the elections in 2014 and 2016. He is chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget Committee.

Owens, 40, mentioned those uncontested races as he talked about his decision to run. Owens said he had been thinking about running and a catalyst was the $1.2-billion income tax hike bill that passed in 2017. He said he “very much stood in opposition” to the tax hike, saying it “put too much burden on the taxpayer.” Schroeder supported the bill and the Legisglature's override of then-Gov. Sam Brownback's veto. Owens said he concluded, "'Now’s the time.’”

He said he’s “very, very excited” to make this run happen. He appointed a campaign treasurer Friday and has a website, rethinkkansas.com

Owens is primarily in the surety bonding business but also has real estate interests.