Elections

Second Wichita student makes 3 teens running for Kansas governor

Ethan Randleas, 17, of Wichita is the third teen running for Kansas governor.
Ethan Randleas, 17, of Wichita is the third teen running for Kansas governor. Courtesy photo

A third teenager has decided to jump into the race to become governor of Kansas.

But even as 17-year-old Ethan Randleas of Wichita says he will join fellow high school students from Wichita and Prairie Village in the growing field, he wonders whether the state should set some sensible limits on who can run for governor.

“Maybe it’s 18 (years old), but just some way to make sure we don’t have like a dog run,” Randleas said Thursday in response to a reporter’s question. “Because I’m sure someone’s going to think about it and be like, ‘Well, you know, might be funny to have my dog run. I’m going to have my dog run for governor.’ And they’ll fork over $2,000 to get it on the primary ballot as a joke.”

Could a dog really run for governor of Kansas?

“I’m not sure how to answer that,” said Bryan Caskey, director of elections at the Kansas secretary of state’s office. “Because I cannot point to a law that sets any qualifications to run for governor. So a dog has never tried to file — I don’t what would happen if one tried to.”

The Kansas Constitution appears to assume that only humans will hold the office when it states that “No person may be elected to more than two successive terms as governor.”

The lack of standards for gubernatorial candidates gained notice in August when Wichita high school student Jack Bergeson, 16, said he was seeking the seat as a Democrat.

And last week, Shawnee Mission North student Tyler Ruzich formed a campaign committee to run for the Republican nomination. He turned 17 this week.

“Under Kansas law, there is no law governing the qualifications for governor, not one,” Caskey said earlier this year. “So there’s seriously nothing on the books that lays out anything, no age, no residency, no experience. Nothing.”

Although Kansas has no standards for who can run for the state’s highest office, it has some of the strictest election requirements in the country for voters.

Though the voting law championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach – himself a candidate for governor – has been challenged in court, it requires that people who want to vote in Kansas provide proof of citizenship to register and show photo identification at the polls.

Randleas, a student at Wichita Heights High School who is seeking the Republican nomination, calls himself a “conservatarian,” a mix of conservative and libertarian.

“We just had a president win on the campaign promise of draining the swamp,” he said. “And if you really want to drain the swamp, you know, you get the complete outsiders and that’s what I am.”

School choice should be opened up, he said. Government should get out of anything that doesn’t involve protecting life, liberty and property.

He described himself as “big” on gun rights and “allowing people that are sane and legal to own as many guns as they want without the government coming in and saying, ‘You can’t do this.’”

Randleas said he is using Go Fund Me to raise money to get on the primary ballot. He did not file with the state ethics commission and officially appoint a campaign treasurer before he started the Go Fund Me campaign, which could have violated the state’s campaign finance law.

Mark Skoglund, the executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, would not comment specifically on Randleas’ campaign.

“Candidates are required to appoint a treasurer before receiving funds,” Skoglund said. “And I want to make it clear that this is not in reference to any particular situation. I’m just talking about the application of the law.”

Randleas said Thursday morning that he was still looking for a campaign treasurer.

“I don’t think we’re in any kind of direct violation with election law right now, honestly,” he said.

By Thursday afternoon, Randleas had been contacted by the ethics commission and said the issue had been cleared up.

“I just need to file online and I’m doing that literally right now,” he said.

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