UPDATE -- Tuesday (Jan. 24): Gov. Sam Brownback has set April 11 as the date for the special election to replace Mike Pompeo in Congress.
Image License Photo: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0 License Link
Pompeo resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives Monday when he was confirmed and formally sworn in as the next director of the CIA.
The confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director has Kansas political parties gearing up to fill his seat in Washington.
Republican, Democrat and Libertarian parties are all working to iron out details for the special election to fill the Fourth District seat.
"This is history. We haven't had something like this in 75 years to it's going to be pretty exciting," said Kelly Arnold, Chair of the Kansas Republican Party.
All three parties will hold a special convention in the next few weeks.
At the Republican and Democratic conventions, delegates will vote for the candidate they want. Republicans have 126 delegates and democrats have 46.
The Libertarian party will also hold a convention for its voters.
"With the law changes and with the fact we're now considered equal to the republican and democrats, it's the best thing for democracy, said Libertarian Party Chair Rob Hodgkinson. "It gives people more choices."
So far, republicans Joseph Ashby, George Bruce, Alan Cobb, Ron Estes, Pete Meitzner and former Rep. Todd Tiahrt have announced their interest in the position.
Laura Lombard, former Rep. Dennis McKinney, Robert Tillman, James Thompson and Charlie Walker have all said they would like to be the democrat on the ticket.
The libertarian party's Gordon Bakken is also interested in running.
Each of the candidates to replace Pompeo has to be at least 25 years old to run for the House of Representatives. They also have to be a U.S. citizen for at least seven years. But there is no requirement that they live in the congressional district they're trying to represent. He or she only has to live in Kansas.
It has to do with how little time the parties have to pick candidates. Of the many candidates who've shown interest in the job, not all of them live in the district. Will that change your vote? History says, yes.
"Do we have any recourse?" Linda Matney asks Charlie Walker, who just announced his candidacy on Monday. She's there because she wants to know more about the men and women vying for her vote in the coming special election to replace Congressman Mike Pompeo, confirmed Monday as the new CIA director.
"I'm hoping that we can fill this seat with someone that will actually work for the people and not for themselves," Linda says.
She wants someone to represent her interests in D.C. She didn't know the candidate in a special election could live outside the district.
"Seems odd," she says.
Dr. Russell Arben Fox, KWCH Political Analyst and political science professor at Friends University, says it's not that unusual.
"Often states do not have a whole lot of time to call a special election." he said. "And it's possible that some viable candidates would be people that have roots in the area, but are not currently living there."
Both Linda and political science student Kaylie Everett say that's not going to change how they decide who to vote for. Though it would make them more watchful.
"Instead of working for us, I would not want him to be doing everything that Topeka wants," says Linda.
"I think that somebody who is in a different district is more than capable," Kaylie says. "But also, it depends on if they're keeping up with the knowledge within the district."
Dr. Fox says it also makes reaching voters more difficult.
"An election comes down to walking the streets and knocking on doors and drawing on people who know you, so that they can contact people they know. Someone who lives outside the district is suffering from a disadvantage," Dr Fox says. "I know of people that have run. I have not known any that have won."
Of the candidates we know about so far, we know one does live outside the district. While the candidate doesn't necessarily have to live in the district during the campaign, whoever wins the seat would have to live here according to the U.S. Constitution.
"They'll weigh the ideology, the question of whether they can wage a competitive race, whether they can win. Their values, positions on the issues," said Kinch.
The conventions are open to the public.
Candidates will give speeches and delegates will vote immediately. Ballots will be counted on site.
The Kansas Republican Party chair says candidates are already campaigning.
"There's a lot of lobbying that goes on. These candidates right now are currently making phone calls to all the delegates and alternates, they're sending letters, setting up meetings," said Arnold.
Democrats are doing the same.
"My expectation is we'll have a competitive election in terms of nominating our candidate," said Kinch.
After the nominees are picked voters will decide who will serve as Kansas' next Fourth District U.S. congressperson.
Independent candidates can also get on the ballot. They must collect 3,000 petition signatures from voters in the fourth district. They have 25 days after Brownback declares Pompeo's seat vacant to get those signatures.