GOP candidates skip gubernatorial forum

TOPEKA (CAPITOL BUREAU) — A dozen gubernatorial candidates participated in a forum Friday hosted by the Kansas Press Association.

However, most of the GOP candidates did not attend. Those candidates include; Governor Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, former state Rep. Mark Hunton, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and businessman Wink Hartman.

Doug Anstaett, the executive director of KPA, said the candidates did not attend because of a pledge the Kansas Republican Party had them sign. The pledge stated the candidates would not take part in debates that didn’t meet the GOP’s guidelines for types of questions asked.

Former state Rep. Jim Barnett, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, did not sign the pledge and attended the forum.

“It’s a decision I made not to sign the Republican debate agreement which limits what questions can be asked and who can ask them. It’s a rigged system,” explained Barnett.

The candidates at the forum had only two minuets to explain why they wanted to be governor.

“It is hard to attract business if we have the perception the state is heading backward and so we have to change that perception,” explained Joshua Svaty a Democratic candidate.

Tax reform, transparency, and paying for schools were among the topics discussed.

“My plan for addressing education is making sure we have the right education and it’s fair and an equitable education and that’s something we haven’t done,” explained Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who is running as a Democrat.

Four high school students running said they offer a new perspective on issues facing the state.

“I think from being from a younger generation we’re all fed up with all of the partisan divide in this country and we really want to work together,” said 17-year-old Tyler Ruzich.

Voters will choose the final candidates in the August primary, the general election is held in November.

The Kansas State Republicans will hold a sanctioned debate for Republican candidates next Saturday in Wichita. The Democratic Candidates have already held close to 10 forums.

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