Holland picks Kultala as gubernatorial running mate

Holland and Kultala - Democratic running matesOVERLAND PARK – Pitching the team as the “pragmatic and moderate” choice, Tom Holland announced Kelly Kultala as his Democratic gubernatorial running mate on Wednesday.

Baldwin City state Sen. Holland, 48, said he planned to apply his experience in business to solving the state’s problems.

“In business, when there is a problem to solve, there isn’t a Democratic way or a Republican way, there is only the right way,” he said. That is how it should be in state government, he said.

The pair is likely to face off against Republicans U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback and state Sen. Jeff Colyer of Overland Park in the November election in a race where the Democrats are generally viewed as the underdogs.

Kultala, 51, is a state senator from Kansas City, Kan., who was first elected in 2008. Before that, she worked with several non-profit groups and local government including the board of commissioners for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan..

While she acknowledged that she and Holland are underdogs in the race, victory is still possible, she said.

Holland said Colyer and Brownback were wealthy insiders tied to the federal government. “They don’t need to run for president or Congress to make that clear,” he said.

Colyer has run for Congress and Brownback has run for president.

“For the past 16 years, Sam Brownback has been part of the problem,” Kultala said.

The Brownback campaign released a statement saying “We welcome state Sen. Kelly Kultala to the debate on how we create jobs, improve education and support our families. The Brownback-Colyer team is ready with a plan.”

Brownback and Colyer face Joan Heffington and her running mate Mark Holick in the Republican primary in August. At the moment there are no other Democratic gubernatorial challengers. The filing deadline is noon Thursday.

Holland and Kultala went from the Overland Park announcement to Topeka to file their paperwork with the secretary of state’s office. They will appear in Wichita at 3:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Chisholm-Stimson Trail Room, 400 West Waterman St.

For more, read Thursday’s Wichita Eagle.