Independent Greg Orman moved to formalize his campaign for governor Monday by submitting more than 10,000 signatures in a bid to qualify for the November general election ballot.
Kansas Democrats pledged to investigate the petitions in anticipation of filing a challenge designed to disqualify Orman. Any dispute would be settled by a three-person panel of Republicans Gov. Jeff Colyer, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Colyer and Kobach are competing in Tuesday’s primary election for the GOP nomination for governor.
“I understand that both parties are reluctant to see competition,” Orman said. “Both parties would like to avoid electoral accountability by preventing candidates, who really speak to the real needs of Kansans, from getting on the ballot. They can go through whatever process they want to, but in November we will be on the ballot.
He needs 5,000 valid signatures to place his name on the November ballot and challenge the hold of the Republican and Democratic parties on the electoral process.
Orman and his running mate, state Sen. John Doll, delivered the petitions in two white boxes to the secretary of state’s office in Topeka. The signatures were collected by volunteers and professionals hired by the Orman campaign.
The secretary of state’s office will analyze the documents during the next couple weeks to determine whether Orman has the minimum to qualify. Any challenges to Orman’s candidacy would be submitted upon completion of the official review.
“We are confident we will have well in excess of the 5,000 valid signatures required,” Orman said. “We have more than enough signatures to withstand any challenges.
Wil Lawrence, chief of staff for Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the Orman signatures would be closely vetted. Lawrence, who attended the Orman news conference, said individuals with a felony record wouldn’t be eligible to sign a petition or distribute petitions. In addition, signatures need to be from people 18 years of age and a citizen of the United States.
“We have good reason to believe that there a number of laws that pertain to these petitions that have not been followed,” Lawrence said. “We will certainly be considering filing an objection.”
During the news conference, Orman said he didn’t put much stock in the argument by some Democrats that a strong independent campaign for governor could undermine the Democratic nominee and assist the Republican nominee.
“I dismiss it completely,” Orman said. “John and I are the only candidates, I believe, who can build a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents and ultimately win this election in November.”
If Orman qualifies, the November statewide ballot would also feature the two major party nominees along with Libertarian Jeff Caldwell, of Leawood, and independent Rick Kloos, of Topeka.