Sabatos Crystal Ball

Kentucky Races

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Kansas

Outlook: Likely Democratic


August 2, 2006 Update:

The Republican chose state Senator Jim Barnett in the August 1 primary, from a crowded field, for the dubious honor of opposing Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Barnett secured about 36 percent of the Republican vote, outdistancing his closest rival by about 9 percentage points. With about two-thirds of GOP primary voters casting ballots for someone else, and Sebelius being very popular, Barnett’s journey to the governorship will be straight uphill–a hill named Mt. Everest. Sebelius is strongly favored.

June 1, 2006 Update:

Governor Kathleen Sebelius is very likely to be reelected governor, and the Republicans have been unable to lineup a strong nominee to oppose her. Incumbents are difficult to defeat, even when the other party has a large lead in partisan identification.

Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius won re-election over Republican Jim Barnett with 58% of the vote.


Background

Democrat Kathleen Sebelius accomplished the near-impossible in 2002–election as Governor in overwhelmingly Republican Kansas. She has had some modest successes and is reasonably popular, but there is no such thing as a safe election for a statewide Democrat in the home state of Bob Dole and Alf Landon.

The Republicans are a long way from deciding the identity of their nominee, but they have an embarrassment of riches: loads of congressmen, state legislative leaders, and statewide officeholders from which to choose. We’ll just have to see. State House Speaker Doug Mays seems to be in the Republican contest, with former State House Speaker Robin Jennison also leaning toward running.

As always, we give a tiny edge to an incumbent who has not become mired in scandal, but if the GOP chooses wisely–far from a sure thing–this contest could quickly move into the toss-up category.

Candidates

Kathleen Sebelius (I) – Democrat – current Governor, former state insurance commissioner and house member
Website

Jim Barnett – Republican – current state senator and physician
Website

Ken Canfield – Republican – Director of the National Center for Fathering
Website