TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty said Wednesday that he's "not even thinking about" running for governor next year, even though fellow Democrats have touted him as a potential challenger for Republican incumbent Sam Brownback.
Svaty noted that about six weeks ago, he became a vice president for the Salina-based Land Institute, which promotes sustainable agriculture. He said his focus is on his new job and, "That's where it's going to be for a while."
"I'm fully committed to this job," he said.
As for the governor's race, Svaty said, "It means that I'm not even thinking about it."
Democrats repeatedly have listed Svaty, an Ellsworth County native; Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence, and businesswoman and former state Board of Regents member Jill Docking, of Wichita, as possible candidates. Docking declined to comment, and Davis did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Wednesday.
The Republican governor hasn't formally announced that he's seeking another four-year term, but he's already raising money for the 2014 race. He began the year with more than $518,000 in campaign funds.
Brownback is favored to win re-election in Republican-leaning Kansas. His push for aggressive personal income tax cuts, though derided by centrist and liberal critics as fiscally reckless, has resonated with the Kansas GOP's conservative base, as has his strong opposition to abortion. Also, Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 344,000 among the state's nearly 1.8 million registered voters.
The Democrats' unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2010, state Sen. Tom Holland, of Baldwin City, said recently that he is not interested in running again. Former state Transportation Secretary Deb Miller, who kept the position for the first 11 months of Brownback's administration, said she gave a run for governor "some fairly serious consideration" but said she ultimately concluded that her interest is policy, not politics.
Also, former Senate President Steve Morris, of Hugoton, said he's not planning to run for governor with either party or as an independent candidate. Morris lost his Senate seat in 2012 after Brownback's fellow conservatives successfully targeted him and other prominent GOP moderates in the Republican primary.
The 33-year-old Svaty was elected to the Kansas House in 2002 and served more than six years there before Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson named him state agriculture secretary in July 2009. Svaty held the job until Brownback became governor in January 2011.
Afterward, Svaty served as a senior adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo.
Brownback's office: https://governor.ks.gov/
Kansas Democratic Party: http://www.ksdp.org
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