Kansas Democratic House Leader Jim Ward is finally jumping into the race for governor.
Ward ended months of speculation with his announcement Saturday at a Wichita union hall.
“I wanna move Kansas forward," he told the crowd. "I love Kansas. There’s no other place I would rather call home.”
Ward says he wants to bring strong jobs and good public schools back to Kansas, but he says his first priority as governor would be repairing the state’s economy. If elected, Ward says he wants to conduct top-to-bottom reviews of all state government agencies.
“I believe Kansans are fundamentally fiscally responsible, and they haven’t seen that in the past four years," he says. "They want their state government to pay their bills and be fundamentally fiscally responsible. And that will be job one.”
The eight-term legislator is joining a race for governor that’s crowded on both sides of the political aisle.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, Ward will face former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer, former state agriculture secretary Josh Svaty, Olathe physician Arden Andersen and Wichita high school student Jack Bergesen.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer are among candidates seeking the Republican nomination.
But Ward says he’s thinking of his own campaign, and not of any potential Republican challenger.
“I’m focused right now on giving Kansans my vision for our future," he said. "I’m going to let the Republicans do what they do, and I think if I deliver that message of what’s good for the future of Kansas, everything will take care of itself.”
Follow Nadya Faulx of KMUW on Twitter @NadyaFaulx.