Two officials plan bids for secretary of state nomination

TOPEKA — A legislator and Kansas' securities commissioner said Friday that they plan to run for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.

State Sen. Chris Steineger of Kansas City said he'll probably file for the office next week. He appointed a campaign treasurer this week, a step required under Kansas law for him to raise money.

Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs said he'll launch his race for the nomination within a few months. Biggs named himself as his campaign treasurer in the fall.

The secretary of state is Kansas' top elections official, appointing election commissioners in the state's four most populous counties and supervising elected clerks in the others. Incumbent Ron Thornburgh, a Republican, is not seeking re-election.

Steineger said he's not worried about facing a challenger in the Aug. 3 primary.

"Arguably, a primary would allow us to get a lot more media attention," he said. "If I have a primary, folks will pay attention."

And Biggs said: "That's part of the political system. I don't think anybody running for secretary of state should be afraid of the political system."

Two Republican candidates are running to replace Thornburgh: J.R. Claeys of Salina, a former CEO of the National Association of Government Contractors, and Kris Kobach of Piper, a former Kansas GOP chairman. Kobach ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004.

Biggs, securities commissioner since 2003, is a former Geary County attorney who was the Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2002, narrowly losing the race.

Steineger was first elected to the Senate in 1996, and he had considered running for governor. In recent years, he's been a vocal critic of a continuing, $285 million renovation of the Statehouse as its costs have increased.