Former Kansas legislator Ed O’Malley launched his campaign for governor on Tuesday with a series of stops across the state, including a visit to Wichita.
The launch came on the heels of what O’Malley described as an exploratory campaign around Kansas. A Republican who was twice elected to the state House from District 24 in northeast Kansas, he joins a crowded field of Republican candidates.
“My campaign will revolve around three big, bold ideas I will work day and night to deliver,” O’Malley said in a statement released Tuesday. “Number one, we will create the best public education system in the world to fuel our economy. Number two, we will transform government by creating the most innovative, efficient and creative workforce inside government to serve you. And number three, we’ll do all this with leadership that brings people together to solve problems.”
O’Malley’s Wichita appearance was held outside Union Station downtown. Between 50 and 75 people gathered in chilly, late-afternoon sunshine to cheer O’Malley as he declared his candidacy.
He is running as a Republican and vowed to stay true to Republican values, but O’Malley said he would welcome working across party lines to get things done as governor.
“We only make progress on our toughest issues if we work together,” he said.
O’Malley served in the Kansas Legislature from 2003 to 2006. He then went on to work as the founding president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita.
Prior to declaring his candidacy, O’Malley spent several months traveling the state and listening to Kansans talk about what they want and what they need. Despite the problems that dogged the state Legislature in recent years, he said, his listening tour showed him something important.
“There is tremendous leadership happening at the local level” in Kansas, he said. That level of leadership needs to ascend to state government as well, he added.
The Republican field in the 2018 race now includes O’Malley, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, former state senator Jim Barnett, former state lawmaker Mark Hutton, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman and several teenage candidates.
Contributing: Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star