By one count at the end of February, 22 candidates had
filed to run for Kansas governor; two others had withdrawn,
and two more – from Oregon –planned to become candidates.
That’s for openers.
The filing deadline is in June, so the count could go
up or down. For now the parties’ lineup for the August 8
primary election is 11 Republicans, seven Democrats, one
Libertarian, and three independents.
Most of the candidates are from Kansas. Several are high
school students. The two ersatz candidates, the arts editor
and the theatre critic for a weekly newspaper in Eugene,
Ore., have filed an affidavit of candidacy in Kansas but
must obtain the signatures of 5,000 voters to be on the ballot;
they say their campaign seeks to mock Kansas’ lack of
standards for candidates.
We hardly need candidates from Oregon to tell us that
our system of electing state and federal officials has gone
Anyone, it seems, can run for governor. And almost
everyone is trying.
This crammed-in-a-can approach to campaigns is painted
on a long backdrop of history, a cycle of records in the
size of stampedes to the governor’s office. In 1982, five
Republicans and three Democrats, including incumbent
John Carlin, started the race. Four years later, when Carlin
was prevented by the constitution from seeking a third
consecutive term, seven Republicans ran for the party’s
nomination (Tom Docking, a Democrat and the lieutenant
governor, was unopposed.). In 1990, six Republicans and
three Democrats ran in primaries; in 1994, six Republicans
and five Democrats ran for their party’s nomination. The
previous record seems to be 1964, when eight Republicans
and five Democrats were on the August primary ballot.
Other high offices are not immune. In 1978, 13 candidates
were on August primary ballots to succeed Republican
Jim Pearson in the U.S. Senate – nine Republicans and
four Democrats. (Nancy Kassebaum emerged as the GOP
nominee, then defeated Bill Roy in the November general
When the primaries roll around in Kansas, Republicans
seem to take the prize for brawling. History counts, on
average, at least a half-dozen Republicans who hoped to
be governor, or a senator, and occasionally in a race for a
The result of these crowded marathons is that a winner
needs only 30 or 35 percent of the vote, if that much, to
make the general election ballot. There are no runoffs.
In other setups, a winner must secure more than half the
overall vote; runoffs, a more careful culling of the herds,
For now, crowded party marathons remain, bringing
“winners” with, say, 25 or 30 percent of the vote. It’s only
appropriate that our primaries are set midway through baseball
season, when both sport and politics share the suffering
of disorder, like the scramble of an infield after a bunt.
Winter Olympics, winners from Torsby
Alf Brorson reports that among 14 medals won by Swedish
athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang,
eight of them were earned by graduates from the school
where he had taught in Torsby, Sweden, in the rural province
of Värmland. Brorson has retired from teaching but
remains a practicing author and journalist; he and his wife,
Maud, a fabric artist, are longtime friends of Lindsborg and
have visited many times over the past 30 years. Brorson
also writes a monthly column, “A Sweden Letter,” for the
Lindsborg News-Record, essays that reinforce the strong
threads that connect the community of Little Sweden and
its mother country.
In an e-mail that followed a recent Sweden Letter,
Brorson wrote, “…the Olympics now being over, we find
that five students, graduates from my old school, brought
home eight medals (cross-country skiing/biathlon). Mona
Brorsson (almost my name) won a silver medal (ladies
biathlon relay); I was her mentor. Peppe Femling, gold medalist
(men’s biathlon relay); I was his English teacher when
he was a freshman. And my dentist’s daughter was a silver
medalist, and so forth.” In addition, Brorson had mentioned
earlier, Stina Nilsson, another former Torsby student, won a
skiing gold in cross country sprint.
“Olympic medalists don’t come from another planet any
more,” he wrote. “They could come from remote country
villages in Värmland, and be pretty familiar to you.”
Small world. Proud, too.
The stock market: no rhyme, less reason
The stock market doesn’t rise or fall, it hiccups. Recently
the markets have been one belch after another.
The Dow Jones, S&P and NASDAQ now appear headed
for their annual high-dive and belly flop, gaining and losing
and gaining again; this happens a percent or three at a time,
sending investors into yet another scramble to figure how to
make it all or lose it again, by the end of the next quarter.
Why all the fuss and feathers?
The usual reasons: a leaf fell to the sidewalk just north of
the Empire State Building, causing a man to stop and take
notice; a gust of wind caught his hat, sending it into the path
of a bus. Or it might have been a lawn mower that wouldn’t
start in Cleveland, or the golf ball that tumbled into a
kitchen sink disposal in Little River. Anything, anything at
all, can cause markets to spin in a frenzy.
Anything, that is, but the rational. Jamie Dimon, CEO of
JP Morgan Chase Bank, once admitted five years ago that
buffoons at the bank’s London office had lost $6 billion in
reckless trades almost overnight and … does anyone remember
that? Nothing much happened but the ceremonial rolling
of a few heads. But let a gnat sneeze in Peru and trading in
Tokyo plunges to record lows in an instant.
Detroit hasn’t quit making cars, Kansas and the Dakotas
haven’t quit growing wheat, Texas didn’t stop pumping oil,
and Silicon Valley hasn’t stopped making smart toys; globally,
Asia and the Germans have bolstered trade surpluses.
Business is okay.
Not even a nightmare tweet from President Trump can
diminish the lasting power of, say, the corporate bond
market or futures trading. (Most veterans and experts have
learned to ignore him.)
But the Mickey Marketeers, fresh out of psychotherapy,
unfold the usual excuses like tired barks from a carnie:
disappointing job growth or unemployment numbers (aren’t
they always disappointing?); earnings expectations for
widgets are down (oh, terrors!); banks, with low earnings
curves, remain reluctant to lend (big news, if you’ve just
returned from the moon). Again, no one is sure why.
Go figure. Nobody else can.
‒ JOHN MARSHALL