A new poll in the Kansas Democratic race for governor showed Wednesday that Topeka Sen. Laura Kelly was the preferred candidate in the five-person primary field, with a double-digit lead over rivals.
The survey, commissioned by Kelly's campaign and involving 500 likely participants in the Democratic Party's primary, indicated the senator would receive 35 percent of the vote. Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer received endorsement of 22 percent of those polled, while former state Rep. Josh Svaty earned 12 percent.
"None of these three candidates have made a statewide name yet," said Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University in Topeka. "All three are under 50 percent — now — in name identification among Democrats. It shows all three have potential to change the horse-race numbers."
In addition, the snapshot revealed Democratic candidate Arden Andersen registered at 3 percent, and Jack Bergeson, who is a high school student, had 2 percent. One-fourth of those polled remained undecided.
Johanna Warshaw, spokeswoman for Kelly's campaign, said the results two months ahead of the Aug. 7 primary reflected the reception received by the senator across the state. She said voters held lingering anxiety about leadership of former Gov. Sam Brownback, who resigned and left the job to Gov. Jeff Colyer.
"People are excited about Laura and her vision to get this state back on track," Warshaw said. "It's clear Kansans are looking for an experienced governor focused on reversing the effects of the failed Brownback experiment and properly funding our schools again."
In the telephone survey conducted June 5-7, which has a margin of error of 4.4 percent, likely voters said a three-way race among Kelly, Brewer and Svaty would result in a wider margin for Kelly. In this hypothetical contest, Kelly would receive 44 percent of the vote, while Brewer would net 25 percent. Svaty would remain at 12 percent as the undecided slipped to 20 percent.
The poll also showed Brewer was the best-known Democratic candidate, with 43 percent firmly aware of him. Kelly's rating was 39 percent, and Svaty registered at 27 percent.