Kansans in the Fourth Congressional District are gearing up for another election. This time it’s to replace former Kansas U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo who is the new head of the CIA.
Gov. Sam Brownback has set Tuesday, April 11 as the special election day to determine who will take Pompeo’s place, said Clayton Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party.
So far, six Republicans have publicly expressed an interest in the position: Ron Estes (state treasurer); Alan Cobb (Trump campaign operative); Todd Tiahrt (former Congressman); Joseph Ashby (radio announcer); George Bruce (Wichita attorney); Pete Meitzner (Wichita city council).
On the Democratic side, Dennis McKinney, former state treasurer, Kansas Representative and Kansas House Democratic Leader, has announce he will seek the Democratic nomination.
The process for replacing a U.S. Senator is different from replacing a U.S. Representative. A new senator can be appointed by the governor but a special election has to be held to replace a representative. The last time a Kansas U.S. Senator had to be replaced was in 1996 when Sen. Bob Dole ran for president. The last time Kansas representative had to be replaced was in 1950 due to the death of the representative, Barker said.
Since this process hasn’t been done in the life time of most of the people involved, participants have had to review state and party practicals and they haven’t had much time to do it. The parties have 25 days from the time the governor announces the special election to pick a candidate and that has both parties moving fast.
“Everyone is learning how to do this. It’s been interesting to say the least,” said Cheyenne Davis, Kansas Democratic party political director.
Both the Kansas Republican and Democratic parties will have to hold a special convention to select on candidate to put on the April 11 ballot. The days for the special conventions should be chosen soon. The Republican convention will bring the 126 members of the Fourth Congressional Committee together to select a nominee. At the convention, the candidates will each have a chance to speak then a member of the committee will have to nominate and another will have to second the nomination the person for the vote, said Barker who thinks Feb. 9 may be their convention date.
The rules for the number of votes necessary to win and get on the ballot in April are decided at the convention. Barker said he anticipates it will be a simple majority of 64 to win. If the vote is split and no candidate gets a majority of the votes, the bottom vote getter will be dropped and another vote will be taken. The process continues until a candidate gets a majority, Barker said.
The Democratic party will have a similar convention. The Libertarian party can also get a candidate on the ballot.
An independent can run but they would need about 17,000 signatures to qualify, according to the Kansas GOP web site.
Once the candidates are selected, they will have to conduct a fast campaign before the April 11 election. Since this happened just after a general election, funding will be an issue. Most groups spent money on the general election so the parties are expecting outside groups to help out. The parties are encouraging Washington to spend money on the campaigns.
“Nothing like this has been done in my memory,” Barker said.
While the parties scramble to get everything done in the time allowed, the county clerks in the 4th Congressional District are gearing up to hold the special election. They have to conduct this election just like every other and get ballots prepared, get election officials to staff the polling stations and they have to pay for it out of their own coffers, said Pratt County Clerk Sherry Kruse.
Counties in the 4th Congressional District are: Barber, Butler, Chautauqua, Comanche, Cowley, Edwards, Elk, Greenwood, Harper, Harvey, Kingman, Kiowa, Pawnee, Pratt, Sedgwick, Stafford and Sumner.