Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: A Sign of a Healthy Democracy

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: A Sign of a Healthy Democracy

Article excerpt

Although the general election is more than 14 months away, it's already clear that the gubernatorial race in Kansas will be a dramatic and unique contest. With the recent news of former Wichita Rep. Mark Hutton's pending announcement, the field will grow to 11 candidates -- seven Republicans and four Democrats. That's more candidates than the governor's race typically produces in Kansas, and the Democrats are getting ready for what will be their first primary in two decades. Kansans will have a lot of research to do before November 2018.

Burdett Loomis is a political science professor at the University of Kansas, and he says this election is "as confusing as I've ever seen it" this early in the process. Washburn University professor Bob Beatty makes a similar point, noting that voters will have a more difficult time distinguishing between the candidates because party labels alone won't give them enough information. Despite these issues, Kansans should be pleased that there's such a large and dynamic field of candidates vying to become governor. As a few of the candidates have pointed out, this suggests that our democratic system remains competitive and robust.

Ed O'Malley argues that the increased competition will "bring out the best in everyone" and produce more substantive debates about policy: "The more crowded the race, the more candidates will have to refine their ideas and their vision." Former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer agrees: "I think it's excellent because I think to voters -- as I said, it gives them that opportunity to be much more informed." Ken Selzer says the Republican primary will be "healthy for democracy" because it forces candidates to contend with a broader range of ideas. Beatty explains that there will also be more debates and forums to help voters make a decision.

While it will be difficult for Kansans to gain a thorough understanding of individual candidates in such a crowded field, O'Malley, Brewer and Selzer are right. …

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