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GOPers to meet to fill empty seat

By Bill Felber

There are three declared candidates for the 67th District House seat that will be filled Monday night. But that does not necessarily mean the winner will be one of the three.

Rules governing the conduct of the caucus permit the 39 Republican precinct committee persons who will make the decision to consider anyone of their choosing as long as that person meets the age and residency requirements. Having said that, party officials add that they have encouraged those who might be considering the position to put their names forward on the theory that it gives voters a better chance to weigh their candidacies.

The caucus will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in the Landon Room of the campus Holiday Inn. It is open to the public — and will be streamed live at — although only precinct committee persons are allowed to nominate, ask questions and vote.

The three known candidates at this point are Frank Beer, owner of the local Radio Shack store; Bob Boyd, a retired commercial and military pilot; and Tom Phillips, a former city commissioner and mayor. Since none of the three is a committee person, each will have to find a nominator and a second before they can actually be considered. Barb VanSlyke, the county party chair, acknowledged that in similar recent circumstances elsewhere in the state, so-called “submarine” candidates have emerged during the nominating process itself.

Whoever is selected by the committee voters will replace Rep. Susan Mosier, whose resignation takes effect Feb. 1. Mosier is taking a position with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The selection will not be official until Gov. Sam Brownback formally approves the appointee, but state law requires him to do that within seven days, and VanSlyke has expressed hope that Monday’s winner could be sworn in as early as Wednesday.

Here’s a brief sketch of the rules — some determined by state statute, some imposed locally — that will govern the selection process.

Majority vote: The eventual nominee must receive a majority (51 percent) of all votes cast. If all 39 committee persons take part, that means 20 votes. If no candidate receives a clear majority in the first round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voting continues until someone wins a majority.

Ballot: Voting is by secret ballot.

Quorum: One-third, which translates to 13 of the 39 eligible voters, must be present.

Platforms: Each candidate will be given up to 10 minutes to address delegates prior to the start of voting. Additionally, each person’s nominator can make a three-minute speech in support of his or her nominee. There will also be a 30-minute question and answer session, the questions being posed in writing by the committee persons. The audience cannot ask questions.

Proxies: Committee persons are permitted to award notarized proxy forms to another eligible voter, although voters are limited to carrying a maximum of two proxies.

Pre-conditions: The party is not allowed to link its selection to any pre-condition. So, for example, while party officials have expressed a clear preference for a candidate willing to stand for election to a full term in November, they cannot turn down the election of a candidate who refused to make such a pledge. Nor could they prevent an unsuccessful candidate from challenging the selectee in the August Republican primary.

Outside help: VanSlyke said Clay Barker, the state Republican Party executive director, guided the local party through the process of establishing rules for the caucus. Among other things, that involved providing state statutes, and samples of proposed rules from previous replacement conventions. Local party officers have also provided input.

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