TOPEKA — A former newspaper reporter announced plans Thursday to enter Kansas politics by seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Charles Schollenberger, 57, made his announcement in front of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. He is a resident of Prairie Village in eastern Johnson County and previously worked at the Kansas City Times and Hutchinson News.
No other Democrat has filed for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor. Republicans have held both Senate seats for 70 years and have long held an advantage in party registration over Democrats.
"We're hoping for support from moderate Republicans and independents, as well," Schollenberger said.
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Two Republican House members — Rep. Jerry Moran, who represents the 1st District, and Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who represents the 4th District — are running in the Republican race to replace Brownback.
Schollenberger said current GOP representation was too conservative for Kansas. He said he would advocate national health care and reforms in the financial system and favors a program granting amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the United States.
He also said he was concerned about the ongoing debate over whether the United States should change its strategy in Afghanistan or send in additional troops.
"I grew up in the tragic Vietnam War era and I don't want to see that happen in Afghanistan," Schollenberger said.
Tyler Longpine, spokesman for the Kansas Democratic Party, said Schollenberger was the first of several candidate announcements to be expected following the recent party meeting in Wichita.
"We're excited to see a field developing. The next few weeks will be exciting," he said.
He declined to give specifics. Gov. Mark Parkinson, who has said he does not plan to seek public office next year, is finishing out the unexpired term of Kathleen Sebelius, who resigned in April to become secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.