HUTCHINSON — Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty sees a potential opportunity for the Kansas Democratic Party if Republican State Treasurer Jake LaTurner wins the Second District seat in Congress in November and his office is left vacant.
"The State Treasurer job, I looked it up, has been a feeder for people that want to go on to higher office," Beatty said. "Going back to Joan Finney from back in the day, who went on to become Kansas governor. The treasurer after her, Sally Thompson ran for Senate, Tim Shallenburger ran for governor, Lynn Jenkins ran for the U.S. House, Ron Estes ran for the U.S. House and now Jake LaTurner. It's almost expected that if you're a State Treasurer, that really the job is a placeholder and you should be moving on to somewhere else."
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly would get the opportunity to appoint someone to the seat and Beatty argues that it's an important appointment for the future of the Party.
"Find a Jake LaTurner," Beatty said. "Find a Democrat who is ambitious, talented, can obviously do the job as State Treasurer, but also is savvy in campaigning and in fundraising and can possibly win an election."
A couple of young Democrats who might fit that bill are LaTurner's opponent in the Second District race, Topeka mayor Michelle De La Isla and Wichita mayor Brandon Whipple.
"They really need to be looking for somebody who can win an election and not just be a placeholder in the seat," Beatty said. "It's tough for Democrats. I would argue, they don't need to use this to reward somebody for long years of service. That person's not going to win in the next election."
This could all be an academic exercise though, as the race between LaTurner and De La Isla is too close to call according to the latest polling immediately following his primary win.