Dozens of candidates rushed to re-file their positions before the noon deadline Monday. Some refiled and others withdrew as a result of new political boundaries released three days ago. The rush comes amid the legislature's failure to agree on district boundary changes.
“The power feud between the conservative wing and the moderate wing of the republican party has been ratcheted up to extremes. That's why redistricting didn't happen,” said political analyst Russell Arbin Fox.
Instead a panel of judges agreed upon new boundaries late Thursday night. In some cases the decision drastically changed district lines. Local precincts worked through the weekend help the secretary of state's office identify some of those changes.
“We have identified over 800 district changes so far,” said Sedgwick County election commissioner Tabitha Lehman.
A third of the members of the state house will now run in incumbent-on-incumbent primaries and the ruling also created new open seats.
“Maybe under the new lines, this incumbent has to face off against another person, and they're fighting over new voters. That's an opportunity for a new voice to come in there,” said Fox.
Still it cost candidates precious time to make plans and reach out to voters and interest groups to develop their message. While the constitution mandates re-districting every 10 years it was one of the most contentious debates in recent memory.
“For political experts, it’s a serious embarrassment. I mean 50 states and everybody else has gotten it done weeks, even months ago, but not Kansas,” said Fox.
350 people filed to run for the state legislature. Secretary of state Chris Kobach said at least five incumbents moved their addresses over the weekend to get into districts where they wanted to run.