Politics & Government

July 6, 2012

Their names are on Kansas ballots — but they’re not running for office

Some people whose names will appear on the primary ballot in August hope you don’t vote for them.

Some people whose names will appear on the primary ballot in August hope you don’t vote for them.

Rebecca Armstrong of Bel Aire will be on the ballot in the Democratic primary for House District 85 in northeast Sedgwick County. But she wants people to vote for the other Democrat on the ballot, Barry Stanley of Wichita. She is even hosting a campaign event for him.

Terry Nunemaker of Wellington will be on the ballot in the Republican primary for House District 116, but he wants people to vote for the other Republican on the ballot, incumbent Kyle Hoffman. The district covers northwest Sumner County plus Harper, Barber and Comanche counties.

They either filed for office in one district only to be thrown into a new district last month when a three-judge panel redrew the state’s political boundaries. Or they filed on the new deadline just to be sure their party was represented on the ballot only to find another candidate from the party also had filed that day.

The deadline to file under the new redistricting maps — June 11— also was the deadline to withdraw. And that date fell only a few days after new maps were drawn.

Pam Frieden of Haysville filed on June 11 for the new District 93 House race, unaware that another Democrat, Sammy Flaharty, of Garden Plain, also filed that day in the same district, which covers much of south Sedgwick County.

“There was just mass confusion for a lot of us,” Frieden said. “I don’t want to run against another Democrat, so I’m just going to support her.” Whichever Democrat wins in the primary will face Republican George (Joe) Edwards of Haysville.

Nunemaker, a Wellington city council member, filed for office in the former District 80 in March. He wanted to give voters an option in November against Democratic incumbent Vince Wetta. There wouldn’t have been any Republican opposition to Wetta if he hadn’t filed, he said.

But redistricting thrust both him and Wetta into a new 116th District that included Republican incumbent Hoffman.

Nunemaker said he assumed if he was put into a new district, he would have a chance to re-file, but that didn’t happen.

He missed the June 11 deadline to withdraw his name because he had gone to Georgia to attend a military ceremony for his son, an Army captain. When he returned, Nunemaker said, he went to Topeka to appeal before the state objections board, but was rejected.

He said the board — Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer — told him he had missed the window to remove his name “and there was nothing they were willing to do about it,” Nunemaker said. The board met on June 19 and made its rulings the same day.

So Nunemaker’s name will be on the ballot, but he is endorsing Hoffman, his primary “opponent.”

“I’m good with his political philosophy and his voting record,” Nunemaker said.

Armstrong said she filed on the June 11 deadline just to be a “placeholder” on the ballot as a November opponent for Republican incumbent Steve Brunk. The party had contacted her about filing because there was confusion about who was running, she said. Stanley filed the same day, unaware another Democrat had filed.

Armstrong, unaware that the date she filed for office also was the deadline to withdraw, said she e-mailed the secretary of state’s office to get her name off the ballot but never received a reply.

Armstrong said she’s not running, and instead supports Stanley.

“It requires more than I am able to accomplish,” said Armstrong, who owns a small business.

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