Lots of Kansans skip primary elections, which are used by Republicans and Democrats to pick candidates for the November ballot.
Four years ago, for example, about 20 percent of registered voters in the state participated.
Compared to many states, Kansas makes it hard to vote in primary elections. The state restricts participation to registered party members and has early deadlines for switching party affiliation.
The restrictions are unnecessary rig-a-ma-roll designed by partisans to boost their control over Kansas politics.
Aug. 7 will be a pivotal day, not just for candidates, but for Kansas. If you want to be a part of it and haven’t registered to vote, you need to do so by July 17.
The governor’s race is especially important, and it features lots of candidates.
On the Democratic side, leading candidates include former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer, state legislator Laura Kelly and Joshua Svaty, a former legislator and state agriculture secretary.
If you choose a Republican ballot, the top contenders are Gov. Jeff Colyer and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Former legislator Jim Barnett and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer are among other candidates still in the race.
Here are some important issues to consider:
• Education: Regrettably, few candidates have provided specific figures and plans about K-12 schools and higher education.
About half of our state budget is devoted to education, so the need for a plan is obvious.
Also, education is the biggest factor driving Kansas’ well-being and economy, so we need to hear how that plan would benefit the state and its residents.
Without such plans from candidates, voters must resort to puzzling over rhetoric. And they should beware rhetoric from extremists.
Candidates who suggest that the governor and legislators should flout court orders regarding school funding are a threat to schools and our constitutional rights.
And those who indicate they can cut hundreds of millions in school spending, but won’t say specifically where and how much, are adding to the danger.
At the other extreme, those who claim they will add hundreds of millions of new funding — without specifying sources for new revenue — don’t have a sensible plan, just political ambitions.
• Taxes and spending: Kobach has been the most strident in his calls to cut taxes and spending, but he hasn’t said where he will cut, or how much.
If voters buy this quackery again, Kansas may never recover.
Under former Gov. Sam Brownback, the state cut taxes and spending, creating an annual, billion-dollar crater in the state budget. The state’s universities, roads, credit ratings, law enforcement, prisons, health facilities, and K-12 schools all paid the price.
Kansas taxpayers will be paying off the added debt foisted on them by the fiscal crisis for at least another generation.
Kobach wants to do it all over again.
Any candidate who espouses significant tax cuts without offering specific spending cuts to match should be rejected. Just as candidates who advocate significant spending increases without offering specific tax increases to pay for them should be rejected.
• Leadership: To be an effective governor, you must lead and manage people.
A good leader creates an administrative structure to facilitate well-communicated plans. He develops a culture that prizes initiative, integrity and problem-solving.
Voters should check gubernatorial candidates’ records for examples of such abilities. Without competent leadership, Kansas will continue to flounder as state officials take their cues from special interests that want control of our state.
• Respect for U.S. law: Officials who have indicated by their words or actions that they won’t comply with court orders or laws with which they disagree should be rejected.
Many politicians across the country are choosing to further their campaigns by undermining trust in the judiciary and federal law enforcement agencies. They hope to succeed politically by attacking the integrity of all who disagree with them.
Kansas voters should not entrust our state to someone who thinks he can pick and choose which of our constitutional rights he’ll respect.
You can learn more about the candidates running in Kansas by going to https://ballotpedia.org/Kansas_elections,_2018
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers in California, Indiana and New York, as well as across Kansas.