Endorsements: Governor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner

07/26/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:25 AM

The following are The Eagle editorial board’s recommendations in the contested primaries for governor, secretary of state and insurance commissioner. We offer these recommendations as information to consider as you make up your own mind about the candidates.

Governor

GOP primary

Though his 3 1/2 years as governor have been rocky, Sam Brownback is the clear choice in this primary. If re-elected, Brownback wants to focus on increasing private-sector jobs and improving the delivery of K-12 and higher education. He also would have to respond to the sharp drop in revenue, caused by tax cuts he championed, that is projected to result in large budget shortfalls in coming years.

His GOP challenger is Jennifer Winn, the co-owner of a family landscaping business. She was inspired to run for governor by the way the courts have treated her son, who faces charges related to a marijuana deal that turned deadly.

The winner will face Democrat Paul Davis and Libertarian Keen A. Umbehr in the November election.

Secretary of state

GOP primary

Scott Morgan faces a long-shot challenge unseating the incumbent in a primary, but he is the clear choice for secretary of state. He is well-qualified and would restore the proper focus and priorities to the office.

Morgan is an attorney who owned a statistical publishing company in Lawrence. He previously served on the staffs of former Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum Baker and was chief counsel for Dole’s presidential campaign and for former Gov. Mike Hayden. Morgan also represented the U.S. Senate on the Federal Election Commission and served two terms on the Lawrence school board.

Morgan says he is “passionate about the right to vote.” Like many Kansans, he is concerned about new voting restrictions, championed by the incumbent, that have resulted in about 19,000 people having their voter registrations placed “in suspense.” He notes that there are almost no cases of voter fraud and says that the incumbent “fabricated claims to instill fear in people.” He also argues that the damage is even greater, as many people may be discouraged from trying to register because of the new hurdles.

Instead of requiring people to prove their citizenship when registering, Morgan favors following federal law and requiring them to declare that they are citizens, under penalty of perjury. Instead of setting up barriers to voting, he wants to work on ways to expand the electorate.

Morgan correctly sees the secretary of state’s job as “mostly clerical.” But he also thinks it is a full-time responsibility and criticizes the incumbent for spending so much time moonlighting around the country on unrelated issues. Morgan wants to return the office to its “tradition of quiet competence.”

Incumbent Kris Kobach has been neither quiet nor particularly competent. His policies have created much more harm than good. And rather than focusing on overseeing elections – including ensuring that Sedgwick County election results are processed quickly and correctly – and on the other administrative duties of his office, Kobach has seemed more interested in being an anti-immigration and states’ rights crusader. Voters should free him to pursue those interests by electing Morgan.

The winner will face Democrat Jean Schodorf in the general election.

Insurance commissioner

GOP primary

State Sen. Clark Shultz, R-McPherson, is the best choice in a crowded field hoping to replace retiring Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger. Shultz, who is a title insurance agent, has served 18 years in the Legislature. He was chairman of the House Insurance Committee for 10 years and worked with the Kansas Insurance Department on budget and policy issues. Though all of the GOP candidates want to increase the number of insurance companies offering policies in Kansas, Shultz also recognizes that the focus of the agency “should always be on the consumer.” He also understands that the job is regulatory and not glamorous. “It’s a working job,” he said.

Ken Selzer is also a good choice. A Leawood resident, Selzer is an executive managing director of Aon Benfield, an insurance brokerage firm. He is also a certified public accountant and has had leadership roles in civic and professional organizations. He wants to bring his business background to the Insurance Department to make it more efficient, productive and responsive. He would make Kansas a more attractive market for insurance companies by ensuring it has a balanced and predictable regulatory environment.

Also seeking the office are Beverly Gossage, who runs a health insurance consulting company; John M. Toplikar, a former state lawmaker; and David Powell, an El Dorado insurance agent who ran unsuccessfully against Praeger in 2002 and 2010.

The winner will face Democrat Dennis Anderson in the general election.

Endorsement Schedule

Thursday: Kansas House

Friday: Sedgwick County Commission, District Court

Saturday: Kansas governor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner

Sunday: U.S. Senate, U.S. House

Endorsements can be read online at Kansas.com/opinion.

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