A pair of dark horses racked up some big campaign money in the race for Kansas governor, as finance reports trickled in to the state ethics board late Wednesday.
Greg Orman, an independent candidate who has yet to formally announce he’s running, was the first to file his campaign finance report and led the fundrace with $453,000 raised in a little under a month.
Close on his heels was Republican Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, who raised $427,000.
Still missing as evening turned to night were finance reports from two prominent Republican candidates – Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.
All candidates in the governor’s race are required to file a yearly update of the money they raised and spent in 2017. But the deadline is midnight Wednesday and candidates can file electronically, so it could be Thursday morning before all the reports are posted, said Mark Skoglund, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
Candidates have been known to try to time their filings to either spotlight good news or deflect attention from disappointing results.
Selzer, who filed after business hours Wednesday, showed total campaign income of $713,462 – the biggest war chest reported. However, $285,700 of that was his own money, listed loans to the campaign.
Still, it was a strong showing for a candidate who has been overshadowed in the campaign by the more familiar faces of Kobach and Colyer.
The finance form clearly showed that Selzer, who’s in charge of insurance regulation in the state, was able to tap insurance companies and executives, the medical industry and related businesses.
His closest competitor in Republican contribution money was Ed O’Malley, a former state legislator who now heads the Kansas Leadership Center. He clocked in with $211,788 in contributions.
Former state Sen. Jim Barnett, a physician and the Republican nominee for governor in 2006, reported total campaign income of $539,645 during 2017. But that figure included $505,000 in personal loans he made to his own campaign.
Among Democrats, Josh Svaty, a former state legislator and agriculture secretary, held a lead but with state Sen. Laura Kelly closing fast.
Svaty reported raising $194,545 in contributions.
Kelly, a state senator, reported raising about $155,000 in the last two weeks of December after getting a late start in the race.
House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, reported $90,534 in contributions.
And former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer trailed the Democratic field in fund-raising, collecting $45,000 since announcing his candidacy in February.
Orman was the first of the major candidates to file his financial report.
It showed $452,931 in contributions. He also added $17,340 of his own money in “in-kind” contributions to pay for supplies, consulting and organizing expenses.
Orman’s finance form showed a total of 327 contributions from across the country. Of those, 199 were for $2,000, the maximum donation allowed. All his contributions were received in December.
If Orman formally joins the governor’s race – and indications are that he will – he will be able to skip the primary season and seek the office as an independent running against the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian nominees in the November general election.
It would be his second run for statewide office. He lost a Senate bid in 2014, getting 42.5 percent of the vote against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts’ 53.1 percent.
Democrat Chad Taylor withdrew from that race, giving Orman a clear shot at Roberts. This time, the Democrats are assured of putting a candidate in the race.
Kelly, of Topeka, reported that she has raised $151,691 so far.
The only woman in the race and reputedly a prolific fund-raiser, Kelly didn’t declare her candidacy until Dec. 15. As a result, all of her contributions came in the last two weeks of 2017, mostly in small donations.
The bulk of her contributions were dated Dec. 31, the last day of the filing period.
Three other candidates – Republicans Colyer, Mark Hutton and Wink Hartman – sent out news releases on their fund-raising, but the actual reports had not been filed by Wednesday evening.
Colyer said he’s raised $630,000 and has $550,000 available for the race.
Hartman, a Wichita oil and restaurant businessman, reported that he was largely self-funding his campaign with $1.65 million of personal funds and that he has $1.5 million on hand for the campaign.
Hutton, a construction executive and former state legislator, reported that he had raised “nearly $580,000,” despite a late start on last year’s fund-raising. He announced his campaign in late September.