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Elections » Candidates

The key to a successful, high-turnout election is having multiple, qualified candidates. These individuals prepare for months before an election, sometimes years, in hopes of winning over the public.

Filing for Office

To run for office a person must meet the qualifications for that particular office. If qualified to run, individuals must decide whether they would like to seek office as a major-party candidate, minor-party candidate or independent candidate. While candidates are not required to be affiliated with a party prior to filing with the Secretary of State's Office, they must submit a declaration of intent before the filing deadline. The filing includes information about the candidate that is provided to the public and requires a monetary fee, the amount of which depends on the desired office.

Major party candidates (Republican or Democratic) may file by submitting a form and paying a filing fee. An alternative method of filing is by submitting a petition having a certain number of signatures from registered voters of their political party in their jurisdiction, and paying a much smaller administrative fee. A county election office verifies each signature on these petitions, and the results of the petition are then certified to the Secretary of State's Office. If successful, petition candidates' names are then placed on the ballot.

All Republican and Democratic candidates participate in the primary election, even if they are unopposed. If they face an opponent, they must win the primary election to be their party's nominee for the general election.

Minor party candidates (Libertarian) are nominated by their state caucus or convention. They participate only in the general election.

Independent candidates (those not affiliated with a political party) must submit a petition to run for office. If successful, their names appear only in the general election.


Being known by the constituents is an integral part of being successfully elected. Candidates launch campaigns in order to win the votes of individuals in their jurisdictions. Statewide offices require candidates to cover large geographical areas, while district offices, such as the members of the Kansas House of Representatives, campaign for smaller groups of constituents.

Dole Campaign image
Kansas native Bob Dole campaigning during the 1996 Presidential Election
Photo by Doug Mills courtesy of The Kansas City Star

Campaign Finances

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission is a state agency that monitors financial actions of individuals and groups involved in the election process, such as monetary donations to a candidate's campaign. A candidate uses such donations to reach voters in his or her district in an effort to persuade them that the candidate is worthy of their votes. Campaign strategies generally involve print and media materials, including yard signs, postcards, buttons, and television and newspaper advertisements. New forms of technology are being used as well, such as Facebook campaigns, text-message alerts and wide-ranging automated phone calls.

Candidates, political action committees, political parties and lobbyists must file financial information with the Kansas Secretary of State. Reports of contributions and expenditures are made available to the public by visiting the Secretary of State's Office or website. The Governmental Ethics Commission monitors these reports and takes action against anyone alleged to be in violation of the campaign finance statutes and regulations.