Modesitt files for likely rematch against Carlin

By Bill Felber

The 66th District legislative race — largely overlooked in the process of filling the 67th District vacancy — began to take shape Friday when Republican Lee Modesitt filed for a second run at the office he lost by fewer than 200 votes two years ago.

Modesitt’s action sets up a likely reprise of his 2010 race against five-term incumbent Democrat Sydney Carlin. Carlin has not officially announced her intention to seek re-election, and with the filing deadline still several months away other candidates could potentially surface. But Modesitt indicated he expects the race to be a rematch.

A graduate student in economics who also serves as co-chair of the county Republican Party, Modesitt outlined a platform Friday that focused on economic issues, among them his support for Gov. Sam Brownback’s initiative calling for the reduction and gradual repeal of the state income tax.

“Not all at once, but as the state’s economic recovery takes hold,” Modesitt said he believed the tax could be taken down. He also said he likes “the idea of ending loopholes and making the income tax more fair across the board.”

But doing so, he said, will require the election of Republicans. “Nothing’s going to get done without the Republican Party,” he said.

Modesitt described himself as “a core free marketer,” although he acknowledged the need for “some regulation; there are certain regulations that are necessary to make sure the playing field stays level.”

He said that if the Legislature does not finalize a revised school funding formula this session, he looked forward to filling in the framework next year. He also indicated that he would support an increased commitment from the state to higher education, regretting the decline in the percentage of the overall cost of higher education that comes from the state. That number has recently been reported as low as from 18 to 22 percent of the overall cost.

“We have a constitutional obligation to provide higher education,” Modesitt said. He said the linkage between a strong educational system and a strong business climate more than justified the additional state responsibility.

At the same time, Modesitt said he would like to see that state investment more targeted toward areas where individual universities excel.

Modesitt received 2,462 votes in 2010, amounting to 48.2 percent of the total vote. Carlin got 2,644, 51.8 percent. It was Carlin’s closest race since her initial legislative victory in 2002.

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