Although the general election is more than 14 months away, it’s already clear that the gubernatorial race in Kansas will be a dramatic and unique contest. With the recent news of former Wichita Rep. Mark Hutton’s pending announcement, the field will grow to 11 candidates — seven Republicans and four Democrats. …

… Kansans should be pleased that there’s such a large and dynamic field of candidates vying to become governor. As a few of the candidates have pointed out, this suggests that our democratic system remains competitive and robust.

Ed O’Malley argues that the increased competition will “bring out the best in everyone” and produce more substantive debates about policy… Former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer agrees: “I think it’s excellent because I think to voters — as I said, it gives them that opportunity to be much more informed.” Ken Selzer says the Republican primary will be “healthy for democracy” because it forces candidates to contend with a broader range of ideas. …

… The gubernatorial race will be enriched by so many different perspectives — candidates will be forced to articulate exactly what makes them stand out from their competitors, and they’ll have to do so in a concise and accessible way. Moreover, former Secretary of Agriculture Josh Svaty was right when he said the ever-expanding group of candidates demonstrates an “interest in change” among Kansas voters.

The most notable fact about the 2018 election is the opportunity it presents. The 2017 Legislature was a powerful repudiation of Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies, and voters will soon have a chance to reaffirm their commitment to a new era in Kansas politics. …

While it’s too early to know what positions all the candidates will take on these issues, major divisions are already evident. For example, Secretary of State Kris Kobach describes the abandonment of Brownback’s tax cuts as “disastrous,” while House Minority Leader Jim Ward was one of the most outspoken supporters of the bill that repealed them.

A chasm this wide demonstrates how consequential this election will be, and we’re eager to see what other debates will emerge over the next 14 months.

— The Topeka Capital-Journal