Democratic gubernatorial primary elections are uncommon at best in the Sunflower State.

In Republican-dominated Kansas, Democrats usually rally around one candidate from start to finish. On Aug. 7, however, they’ll choose from three strong contenders all running spirited campaigns in hopes of making it to the Nov. 6 general election.

State Sen. Laura Kelly, former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer and Josh Svaty, a past Kansas agriculture secretary and state representative, all have solid credentials and would serve the state well.

The question is, who’s best equipped to tackle significant challenges now?

Recent setbacks caused by far-right Republicans will haunt the next governor. Former Gov. Sam Brownback and his ultraconservative regime saddled the state with many problems, to include unprecedented debt accumulated in an irresponsible attempt to offset revenue losses from reckless income-tax cuts.

Well-off Kansans benefited the most, and even they wanted to reverse Brownback’s tax policy that failed to generate economic growth, but did set up destructive funding hits on education, highways, public safety and other core services.

As a result, the next governor must make many tough decisions. It’s necessary to work effectively with the Legislature starting on Day 1.

Best suited to do so is Kelly, the moderate Democratic senator from Topeka whose no-nonsense, intellectual take on issues earned her the respect of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. She’s most familiar with the dynamics of the current legislative process and state agency operations, which would prove invaluable in fixing far-reaching problems.

A staunch supporter of educational opportunities for all students, Kelly won’t tolerate the ugly, deliberate run on public schools and educators we saw from Brownback and his fellow ultraconservatives out to privatize education.

She’ll also push for Medicaid expansion to help working-poor Kansans and healthcare providers struggling in rural areas in particular. And, she's vowed to improve economic development strategies designed to create jobs and fuel economic growth in rural parts.

Kansas needs a gritty, pragmatic problem solver with a keen understanding of current challenges; someone with steely resolve who’ll work with policymakers of all political persuasions to get things done.

Kelly possesses those important qualities, making her the choice for Democrats in the Aug. 7 primary.