July 10--Speaker of the House Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, is endorsing Ken Willard in the Republican primary in the 104th District.
The winner of the Aug. 7 election featuring Willard and Steven Becker will claim the seat held by O'Neal, retiring after 28 years in the Legislature. No Democrat filed in the 104th District, which covers north Hutchinson neighborhoods, Buhler, and the northeast corner of Reno County.
Willard is a Hutchinson resident retired from the insurance business and serving on the State Board of Education. His views, like O'Neal's, are aligned with conservatives. Willard also has won the endorsement of the Kansas Chamber's political action committee.
Willard said O'Neal's endorsement would be included in a planned mailing.
"That does not surprise me," Becker said of the endorsement. "I don't think my political position lines up with Mr. O'Neal's very well, anyway."
Unlike Willard, Becker threw his hat into the ring before O'Neal announced June 1 he would not seek re-election. Becker said he sent an email to O'Neal when he filed to run and did not receive a response.
Becker is a retired Reno County judge living in the Buhler area. He has described the Kansas political landscape as "hyper-partisan" and called the tax cuts approved in the recent session as too drastic.
The tax cuts are projected to lead to state budget deficits. Willard said he would have preferred a "slower glide path" for implementing the tax cuts, and the Legislature will need to monitor the impact and make adjustments.
Becker wrote in a recent questionnaire sent by The News that he hopes the cuts will be revisited "and a more moderate policy reached."
The Kansas National Education Association has "recommended" Becker in the race. Willard said the KNEA has never endorsed him.
July 17 is the last day to register to vote in the Aug. 7 primary. Voters who want to switch political party affiliation in order to get the Republican or Democratic ballot must do so before or on July 17.
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Previous Reader Comments (if any):
Want more.... : 7/10/2012
of what we're getting out of Topeka? More log jams, more disconnect and less actually getting done? Vote Willard. Want someone that will represent us as we deserve and expect? Vote Becker. It's that simple.
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