Kansas Libertarians vie for nomination in rare special election for US House

LPKS Chair Rob Hodgkinson
LPKS Chair Rob Hodgkinson

Taking advantage of a rare opportunity, the Kansas Libertarian Party (LPKS) will hold a convention in U.S. House District 4 on February 11 to nominate a candidate for the congressional seat vacated by Congressman Mike Pompeo, who has been confirmed to be Director of the CIA. Three Libertarians have announced their intention to run for the nomination: Gorden J.Bakken and Chris Rockhold of Wichita, and John Kostner of Murdoch.

Until recently, Libertarians were excluded from all special elections because Kansas law required the candidate’s party to receive five percent of the vote in the last election for governor. The only alternative was to run as an independent and collect approximately 17,000 signatures, which is virtually impossible to do in a U.S. House district with a short petitioning period.

LPKS Chair Rob Hodgkinson played a key role in getting Libertarians included in this election.

State law governing special elections was out-of-date and comprised several violations of federal law. The Secretary of State (SoS) was aware that it would get sued by multiple groups, including LPKS, if this election went forward under the old rules.

Hodgkinson spoke with the SoS and several legislators, including the chair of the elections committee. He also testified before the committee in favor of HB 2017, which passed, and which authorized the governor to call a special election.

With the passage of HB 2017, all recognized political parties can participate in special elections without needing to gather signatures. The Libertarian Party is the only party in Kansas, other than the Republican and Democratic parties, that is currently recognized. It maintained minor party status in 2016 by receiving 1 percent of the vote in a statewide race. US Senate Candidate Rob Garrard received 5.5 percent, and presidential candidate Gary Johnson received 4.6 percent.

This is the first special election being held in Kansas in 63 years because the state only holds special elections for federal offices. For all other offices, open seats are selected by the party which elected the departing officeholder.

Seven Democrats and Republicans have filed to run for the open seat.

The special election will be held on April 11. Hodgkinson will chair the Libertarian nominating convention for District 4 at the Wichita Public Library on February 11. LPKS will hold its state convention on April 22-23 in Kansas City.