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The Kansas Leadership Center Journal



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Your Local Candidates 2020

These 36 races for seats in the Kansas Legislature in the Nov. 3, 2020, General Election could significantly impact the future direction of Kansas. See how candidates in some of the state’s most competitive races responded to questions The Journal asked about their views of  key election issues chosen by Journal readers.

Click here to see a list of local elections that The Journal collected candidate survey responses from

By: Chris Green

All 165 seats in the Kansas Legislature will be on the ballot in the Nov. 3 General Election. But it’s the decisions of voters in 36 of those races that could have an outsized impact on the future direction of Kansas.

Will Kansas expand Medicaid? Pass a constitutional amendment on abortion? How would the budget be balanced to makeup for revenue shortfalls from the COVID-19 pandemic? Will Republicans maintain their super majority, which would give them greater say in issues such as redistricting? Or will Democrats be positioned to sustain the vetoes of Gov. Laura Kelly?

Voters in 13 Kansas Senate and 23 Kansas House races will have considerable power to shift the Legislature in their preferred direction. Why? Because they live in districts that have demonstrated shifts in their political loyalties and where there’s the possibility of keen competition between the two major political parties to win over voters.

Using data compiled by Patrick Miller, a University of Kansas political scientist, The Journal created a list of 36 districts to watch in 2020. Many of the districts are politically heterogenous, having supported Donald Trump for president in 2016 but backed Democrat Laura Kelly for governor in 2018. Others have a history of close races or volatile political preferences. At least one is highly unlikely to flip party control in 2020, but could be worth watching for years to come because of shifting demographics there.

As part of its efforts to develop a “citizens agenda” for campaign coverage, The Journal surveyed its readership over the summer to find out what they wanted candidates talking about as they competed for votes in the general election. More than 800 people from across the state responded to our brief survey. They overwhelmingly mentioned four issues they would like to see candidates running for office discuss – the economy, health care, the COVID-19 pandemic, and race and criminal justice. You can read the details about our process and the questions we decided to ask.

The Journal asked all of the candidates running in these 36 races to answer an election issues questionnaire focused on these topics. Many of the candidates detailed their responses in writing. For those that didn’t, myself and Journal reporters Dawn Bormann Novascone, Mark Wiebe, Joel Mathis and Stan Finger reached out to those who didn’t respond and asked them to answer a slightly abbreviated set of the questions in phone interviews or by email. In all, we received responses from about two-thirds of the 73 candidates we reached out to.

For those candidates who didn’t respond, we tried to create summaries of their views on these issues based on data that is publicly available elsewhere. We felt it was important that voters have the opportunity to understand where the positions of candidates contrasted so that they could understand how their votes might influence the Legislature. Wherever possible, we tried to let candidates speak for themselves, using their own words, while also providing very brief summaries that highlight where candidates differ.

Below is a list of races we’re profiling and a link to the full story about them. We hope readers will find them helpful as they make their decision this fall.


2020 Elections Kansas House Senate

View Local Election Survey Responses

(Incumbents or candidates of the party holding the seat are listed first)

Kansas Senate

District 3, Tom Holland (Democrat) vs. Willie Dove (Republican)

District 5, Kevin Braun (Republican) vs. Jeff Pittman (Democrat)

District 9, Beverly Gossage (Republican) vs. Stacy Knoell (Democrat)

District 10, Mike Thompson (Republican) vs. Lindsey Constance (Democrat)

District 11, Kellie Warren (Republican) vs. Joy Koesten (Democrat)

District 18, Tobias Schlingensiepen (Democrat) vs. Kristen O’Shea (Republican)

District 19, Anthony Hensley (Democrat) vs. Rick Kloos (Republican)

District 20, Brenda Dietrich (Republican) vs. Rachel Willis (Democrat)

District 22, Tom Hawk (Democrat) vs. Craig Bowser (Republican)  

District 23, Rob Olson (Republican) vs. Wendy Budetti (Democrat)

District 28, Mike Petersen (Republican) vs. Jim Ward (Democrat)

District 30, Renee Erickson (Republican) vs. Melissa Gregory (Democrat)

District 38, Bud Estes (Republican) vs. Edgar Pando (Democrat)

Kansas House

District 2, Kenneth Collins (Republican) vs. Lynn Grant (Democrat)

District 3, Monica Murnan (Democrat) vs. Chuck Smith (Republican)

District 14, Charlotte Esau (Republican) vs. Angela Justus Schweller (Democrat)

District 15, John Toplikar (Republican) vs. Cole Fine (Democrat)

District 16, Linda Featherston (Democrat) vs. Rashard Young (Republican)

District 17, Kristine Sapp (Republican) vs. Jo Ella Hoye (Democrat) vs. Michael Kerner (Libertarian)

District 20, Jane Dirks (Republican) vs. Mari-Lynn Poskin (Democrat)

District 28, Carl Turner (Republican) vs. Sally Jercha (Democrat)

District 39, Owen Donohoe (Republican) vs. Les Lampe (Democrat)

District 40, David W. French (Republican) vs. Joana Scholtz (Democrat)

District 41, Mike Griswold (Democrat) vs. Pat Proctor (Republican)

District 48, Jennifer Day (Democrat) vs. Terry Frederick (Republican)

District 49, Megan Lynn (Republican) vs. Katie Dixon (Democrat)

District 52, Jesse Borjon (Republican) vs. Mary Lou Davis (Democrat)

District 56, Virgil Weigel (Democrat) vs. Tim Clothier (Republican)

District 60, Mark A. Schreiber (Republican) vs. Todd Maddox (Democrat)

District 69, Clarke Sanders (Republican) vs. Ryan Holmquist (Democrat)

District 72, Tim Hodge (Democrat) vs. Avery Anderson (Republican)

District 78, Ron Ryckman (Republican) vs. Kathy Meyer (Democrat)

District 87, Susan Oliver Estes (Republican) vs. Matt Fox (Democrat)

District 96, Stephanie Yeager (Democrat) vs. Tom Kessler (Republican)

District 102, Jason Probst (Democrat) vs. John Whitesel (Republican)

District 111, Barb Wasinger (Republican) vs. Eber Phelps (Democrat)