Gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis casts advance ballot in Lawrence

Kansas gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis votes early at the Douglas County Courthouse in Lawrence on Friday. (Oct. 31, 2014)
Kansas gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis votes early at the Douglas County Courthouse in Lawrence on Friday. (Oct. 31, 2014) Associated Press

Democrat Paul Davis cast his ballot early Friday in Lawrence, but he refused to say how he voted on any ballot item other than his own race.

Davis, who is facing off against Gov. Sam Brownback in the governor’s race, would not say whether he voted to retain Kansas Supreme Court Justices Eric Rosen and Lee Johnson.

In recent weeks Brownback has vocally backed a movement to oust the two judges over a controversial court decision to overturn death sentences for Reginald and Jonathan Carr, who committed five murders in Wichita in 2000. The court upheld the Carrs’ conviction, but ruled it was unconstitutional for them not be given separate sentencing hearings.

Brownback has aggressively pushed the issue. He has also accused Davis of avoiding telling the public where he stands on numerous issues, judicial selection being one of them.

Davis called how he voted on the justices’ retention a private matter.

“I’m not going to talk about who I voted for or how I voted,” Davis said, as he took questions in a park adjacent to the Douglas County Courthouse, where he voted early Friday morning. “I do think there’s a very good candidate for governor that I did vote for.

“I just think voting is something that is a private matter for most folks,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect anybody to talk about who they vote for.”

Davis greeted a small crowd of about 15 supporters and thanked them for all their efforts on the campaign.

Marylou Wright, a former member of the Lawrence school board, said her support for Davis stemmed from her concerns about education and healthcare under the Brownback administration. She also said she hopes that Davis can bring more bipartisanship to Topeka.

“I hope so. It depends on other individuals who are elected,” said Wright, 74. “But if anybody can do it, Paul Davis can because he’s tried to do it in the past.”

Boog Highberger, the man who seems poised to take Davis’ vacated seat in the Kansas House, also came out to voice his support for Davis, who has represented Lawrence in the Legislature since 2003.

“Well, I think they’re big shoes to fill. But I wear size 13s so I think I’ll be able to do that,” said Highberger, a former mayor of Lawrence well-known for his activism on progressive causes.

“I really hope to be able to work with Paul in the statehouse. I think he’s a great leader, and he has a real vision for moving Kansas forward. I want to be part of that.”

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.