Kansas primary election more interesting than usual
This WSU Newsline Podcast is available at http://www.wichita.edu/newslinepodcast. See the transcript below:
You’re listening to the podcast edition of the Wichita State University audio newsline. Learn more about WSU — the home of Thinkers, Doers, Movers and Shockers — on the web at wichita.edu.
History shows that few people vote in primary elections. However, this year’s
Aug. 3 Kansas primary election may be more interesting than usual. Wichita State University political scientist Ken Ciboski says once Sen. Brownback decided to run for governor, the dominoes started to fall.
Ciboski: "Sen. Brownback’s decision to leave the Senate and run for governor of Kansas I think sent a rippling effect throughout the state and, therefore, you had people who were interested in running for his seat. And it so happened that we had two House members from Kansas who are running for that seat, and they’re very competitive. And that leaves other vacancies, too.”
So why would two incumbent House Republicans give up their seats to run for the Senate? Ciboski explains.
Ciboski: "Well, there are several things. One is, for example, if you get to be a senator, you only have to run every six years. If you’re a House member you run every two years, and so you’re continually having your eye on that next election, and that’s one reason. Secondly, there are only 100 senators. If you’re one of a 100 instead of one of 435 in the House, you may have more influence and get more done.”
Ciboski says open seats generate more competition.
Ciboski: "Well, what we have is competition within the party. I mean, that’s what we have here with primaries. There’s no party identification per se to distinguish one candidate from another. They’re all the same party, but it’s very competitive, and there will be followers of each of the candidates, and those followers want to make certain that they get out to the polls on Election Day. So, competitiveness brings out an electorate in the primary more so than it would have if they didn’t have competition.”
The fact that a senator is running for governor makes this primary season a little unusual as well.
Ciboski: "Of course, I’ve always thought about this a lot from the standpoint of Sen. Brownback’s stepping down and running for governor in Kansas. As we know, he ran for the presidency. And a lot of people have this idea, whether it’s true or not, that if you have executive experience, you’re better qualified to be a president or presidential candidate. So I think, in spite of whatever discussion is going on, Sam Brownback still has the idea that he wants to run for president and that, quite possibly, he could pull off the nomination of the Republican Party.”
According to Ciboski, Kansas has at least two House seats that are competitive at the primary level.
Ciboski: "Okay, we have two districts, two United States House Districts in Kansas which are really competitive in the primary season here, that being the First District with the Jerry Moran seat, and Fourth District, which is Todd Tiahrt’s seat. And we have a full primary list of candidates running.”
Although history shows that most voters find other things to do with their time than vote in primary elections, Ciboski says the various races may spark more interest than usual this time around.
Ciboski: "Primary election turnout is usually much lower than the general election turnout. The voters are different in the general election. They are more moderate and mainstream and so on. The primary election draws the people who are intentionally interested in the party, but also intentionally interested in a particular candidate, and the more competitive a primary is, which we are witnessing here in the First and the Fourth District, the more likely we are to see a higher turnout. Of course, a lot is going to depend on whether it’s going to be hot, or whether it’s raining or what the weather is going to be like, so we’ll wait and see.”
Many voters don’t’ seem to realize that the primary election is the most important phase. This is when each vote counts the most, because it gives people the ability to decide who the best candidate is. Unfortunately, many people skip the primary election and only vote in the general election, many of them complaining that their party’s candidate is not the one they would have chosen.
Thanks for listening. Until next time, this is Joe Kleinsasser for Wichita State University.