A group of Kansans hoping to establish a new centrist political party in time to field candidates for the upcoming general election failed to get enough signatures to make that happen.
Even so, they say, they got enough support to convince them that they could be on the 2020 ballot.
“We’re in it for the long game,” said Scott Morgan of Lawrence.
A lifelong moderate Republican, Morgan left the party after losing a 2014 primary challenge to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach is a conservative who, along with former Gov. Sam Brownback, pushed the party to right in recent years.
Morgan is attempting to form the Party of the Center. He said that party is more about process and good government than ideology.
Political scientists are skeptical, noting that the handful of third parties have had any success formed around either a powerful cause or a charismatic leader.
Still, after spending months circulating petitions and talking politics with Kansans, Morgan said he’s more convinced than ever that it’s possible.
“That unserved, untapped market of people who are lost without a party is just massive,” he said.
Morgan blamed poor planning for the failure to gather the requisite signatures before a June 1 deadline. He specifically noted his group’s decision to start in winter, when the type of large outdoor gatherings that lend themselves to petition drives are scarce.
Organizers hope to get the rest of the signatures needed to formally register the party by later this summer, Morgan said, and then focus on recruiting candidates for 2020.
“We can take a good year getting together (a slate) of Senate and House candidates,” he said.
Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.