Six teenagers’ entrance into the race for Kansas governor has spurred action from lawmakers who would like to see only adults run for executive office. Current Kansas law doesn’t impose a minimum age requirement on candidates for statewide office. This past summer, Jack Bergeson, 16, of Wichita, discovered the lack of an age requirement. He decided to run for office — and he set a trend. Six teens are seeking the state’s top office, and another — Lucy Steyer, of Lenexa — is running for secretary of state. Consternation about the number of teens in already crowded 2018 races inspired a bill discussed Wednesday by the House Elections Committee that would set a minimum age of 18 for candidates running for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer and state commissioner of insurance. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor would also have to live in Kansas for four years before seeking office, but the bill wouldn’t take effect until after this fall’s election. The committee could vote Monday.
Rep. Blake Carpenter, a Derby Republican, said he introduced the bill following discussions with Ethan Randleas, an 18-year-old candidate from Wichita.
“I wanted to get him involved in the process, so when I got him involved in the process, I wanted him to help me draft a bill,” Carpenter said.
Proponents of the bill argued that most states require candidates to be older and that the U.S. Constitution sets minimum ages to run for Congress or the presidency. Rep. Keith Esau, an Olathe Republican running for secretary of state, said he thought the proposal was appropriate.