While Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts faced tough re-election challenges at the top of the ticket, three Republicans cruised to easy victories in their statewide races.
Republican Ken Selzer will be the next Kansas insurance commissioner, defeating Democrat Dennis Anderson for the job that Republican Sandy Praeger is vacating.
Treasurer Ron Estes and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, both Republican incumbents, defeated their respective challengers: Democrats Carmen Alldritt and A.J. Kotich. The vote percentages were similar in both races, about 66 to 34 percent, with 87 percent of the precincts reporting.
The insurance commissioner race was slightly closer, with Selzer leading Anderson 61 to 39 percent, with 87 percent of the precincts reporting.
Anderson got support from the woman who currently holds the job, Praeger.
“I think the biggest problem for Anderson is he just didn’t have the money to engage,” said Bob Beatty, a professor of political science at Washburn University.
Anderson had raised about $95,000 since the August primary compared to Selzer’s $147,000. Beatty said both candidates were overshadowed by races at the top of the ticket.
Each candidate has years of experience in the insurance industry but differ greatly on their attitude toward the Affordable Care Act.
Selzer has been outspoken in his criticism of the ACA and opposes Medicaid expansion.
Anderson supports Medicaid expansion, which is possible through the ACA, and opposes the controversial health care compact, which conservatives say would free the state from the ACA’s regulations but that Democrats warn could lead to changes in Medicare.
“That’s a race that could have been a really interesting conversation about Medicaid expansion, because there’s been some polls that show people in Kansas are open to talking about that, but it just didn’t happen,” Beatty said. “In politics, when you don’t have the money to get your message out, then the discussion usually doesn’t happen.”