TOPEKA — State Rep. John Doll, R-Garden City, filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday morning to run for the Republican nomination for Kansas Senate District 39 in the 2016 primary election.
The district currently is represented by Sen. Larry Powell, R-Garden City. The district includes Finney, Haskell, Grant, Stanton, Morton, Stevens, Kearny, Hamilton, Wichita and Greeley counties.
Doll spent the April legislative break meeting with community leaders across the Senate district to hear concerns and gauge support for a change in representation.
“From Tribune to Elkhart over to Sublette and Garden City, and everywhere in between, people are worried,” Doll said. “These concerns and overwhelming encouragement from southwest Kansas leaders echo in my mind as I return to Topeka for the Veto Session and compel me to act.”
Doll announced earlier this month that he was exploring the idea and had formed an exploratory campaign with his wife, Garden City Mayor Janet Doll, as treasurer, which allowed him to raise money.
At the time, Doll said he wanted to see what kind of support might exist for his candidacy, so he set a fundraising goal, one he declined to disclose, but said the goal was met and then some.
“I was humbled by it, actually,” Doll said Wednesday. “I told people if I reached this goal, I would run. I reached that goal within a week and a half to two weeks.”
The primary election will be Aug. 2, 2016. Doll anticipates a heated race similar to the one in 2012, which resulted in the ousting of Senate President Steve Morris, who had held the seat since 1993. Powell won the Senate seat in 2012, defeating the more moderate Morris of Hugoton, 51.8 percent to 48.1 percent in the primary. Powell had no challenger in the general election.
In a press release announcing Doll’s candidacy, Morris stated his support for Doll.
“The wealthy funders backing the incumbent got what they paid for, and voters got the short end of the stick. Southwest Kansas voters now know better and are demanding change,” Morris said. “John Doll is interested in public service, not a title to inflate personal ambition.”
Doll was elected to the Garden City Commission in 2007, and served as mayor in 2010-2011. He was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2012, and re-elected without opposition in 2014. He currently serves on the Transportation, Utilities and Telecommunications, and Insurance committees in the House.
Starting this summer, Doll plans to travel across the district going to parades, fairs and knocking on doors through the fall, but it will be more low key compared to next year in the months leading up to the August primary.
Some of the major issues Doll plans to address include schools and the impact of block grant funding, Medicaid expansion and the impact on rural hospitals, gasoline taxes and highway funding.
“I plan to talk about southwest Kansas and what we need to do to straighten the ship. We need to change some things, and that’s what I’m going to hit on,” Doll said. “I’m not happy with the direction we’re going at this time. You can either sit on the porch and take it or get out and try to do something about it, and that’s what I want to try to do.”