Two Republican candidates have already filed to replace Rep. Todd Tiahrt, state Sen. Dick Kelsey and National Committeeman Mike Pompeo. Many more on the Republican side are sure to enter.
At the top of the list is Senate Majority leader Derek Schmidt. It's been pretty common knowledge that Schmidt has wanted to run for higher office for some time. I would imagine he would make a run for Governor if Brownback and Thornburgh weren't already in the race. That doesn't leave much room for him.
His recent change of heart regarding increasing taxes to fix the budget is somewhat telling. I think it's just a matter of time before he throws his hat in the ring. He'll have to overcome virtually no name recognition in the Wichita area because his Senate district only covers three counties in the fourth. But that's certainly possible and he'll be a strong candidate to beat.
I'd be remiss not to mention Bob Knight again. Who knows exactly which way he might decide to run... if he does... which he won't.
Both Susan Wagle and Carolyn McGinn have been named as possible candidates. Either would would be strong candidates and would have some name recognition, although none of the candidates on either side have the name ID like Tiahrt himself. Both are conservative and would more than likely run a conservative based campaign. Wagle would be more of a lightening rod than McGinn, but I still think she would be effective and could certainly win. I doubt both would get in, I think it's an either/or thing here.
Dick Kelsey has made it clear he's in it to win with a large loan to his campaign, but he's also only been able to find two contributors who don't have the last name of Kelsey. His win a trip gimmick to try and get people to visit his website is a bit of a concern for me as well. It didn't result in any significant donations to his campaign and I really expected a more professional looking site after the way it was promoted. The graphics are poor, the design doesn't seem right and I found several missing links within just a couple of minutes. Online campaigning is a fine idea, but don't push it unless you have the resources there to capitalize on it.
Pompeo has been a great National Committeeman and I look forward to seeing him continue to serve. My main concern with Pompeo is his speaking skills. But that's certainly something that can be improved over time. For me, the jury is still out on Pompeo.
Just for fun, let's throw out Phil Journey. Sure he just got elected as a District Court judge, but he certainly knows how to run a campaign. Now that conceal carry is legal in Kansas, I don't see him jumping in.
There's a few more possible candidates that I'm leaving out, but none of them seem like real possibilities (not that everyone mentioned above is even a remote possibility.) There is, however one name I'm leaving off the list. That's of course my pick in a perfect "I get to pick the nominee" world. I'll share that later. I promise it'll make every liberal scream!