State politicos have been up in arms over Jim Barnett’s resignation from the Kansas Senate, mainly because it leaves virtually no time to find someone to run in November. Barnett lost his primary to replace Jerry Moran in the U.S. House in August, and many associated with the campaign said that Barnett was tired of the whole political game near the end of the race.
Had Barnett waited until Oct. 15, the matter could have been resolved through a convention by Senate District 17 Republicans. However, as Barnett is formally leaving on Oct 1, he has more than two years left in his term. Now there has to be a nominating convention for both Republicans and Democrats to appear on the November general election ballot.
So what’s the rush? If insiders are correct, Barnett isn’t as concerned with who gets his seat, as much as who doesn’t. Rumors are circulating about bad blood between Barnett and District 76 State Rep. Peggy Mast, who endorsed First District GOP nominee Tim Huelskamp in the August Primary. Mast could have been a contender for that seat, having conservative credentials and working as the assistant house majority leader. However, Mast can’t get off the ballot for November’s election, and can’t appear on the ballot twice.
This leaves Republicans in a bad spot. Barnett’s timing leaves them without a big name to nominate and only gives both parties maybe three weeks to campaign. With a difference of 15 days between Barnett resigning without causing a party headache, or causing a major one, one has to wonder if Barnett is sending one last message before he decides what to do with the rest of his life. It’s safe to say, however, that Barnett is burning most, if not all, of his bridges with Kansas Republicans with the timing of his resignation.
For a guy who is supposedly tired of politics, this was about as political of a move as he could muster.