TOPEKA — The Kansas Democratic Party got its first prominent candidate in the U.S. Senate race today when David Haley, a state senator from Kansas City, announced he would enter the fray that has thus far been dominated by dueling Republican congressmen.
Haley said he thinks he has a chance to win by offering voters a moderate alternative to Reps. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, and Jerry Moran, R-Hays. Both of the GOP candidates are working hard to appeal to committed Republican primary voters, who generally skew conservative.
“The tone has been … ‘Let me see how outrageously conservative and extreme I can be,’” Haley said of the race between Tiahrt and Moran. “I believe moderation in representation is what most Kansans want.”
He said he thinks that given a viable choice, voters statewide will prefer a more moderate Democrat to a conservative Republican, as they did when they elected Kathleen Sebelius as governor and Paul Morrison as attorney general. Haley said the seat would have been Sebelius’ for the taking if she hadn’t resigned as governor to become President Obama’s secretary of health and human services.
Haley describes his politics as socially progressive and fiscally conservative. A former Republican, he said he has never voted for a tax increase and rarely for fee increases.
In the state Senate, he said, he has been able to work cooperatively with Republicans and Democrats “to bring jobs, education, health care and public safety to Wyandotte County and all Kansans.”
Haley twice ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state against Ron Thornburgh. He said he expects to file his papers to run for Senate within a week.
The other Democratic candidates are Lisa Johnston, assistant dean for student academic services at Baker University and Charles Schollenberger, a communications executive.