The contest to replace Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback in 2018 has begun in earnest, and a former northeast Johnson County state representative is the first to make a move toward declaring his candidacy.
Ed O’Malley, who served District 24 as a Republican in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2006, published a video on the web Thursday announcing he was forming and exploratory campaign for the governorship.
“I believe we can do better in our state,” O’Malley said in the video. “Our problems can be solved faster, more effectively, and more efficiently. And it’s going to take leadership that brings us together rather than divides us apart.”
He says he plans a series of meetings and town hall events across the state in the coming months to gauge the interests of the Kansas people.
O’Malley was elected to a third term in office in November 2006 but resigned his seat a month later to become the president and chief executive officer of the Wichita-based Kansas Leadership Center, where he has served ever since. (Republican precinct leaders appointed Ronnie Metsker to replace O’Malley for the 2007 and 2008 sessions. Metsker was defeated in his bid for reelection in 2008 by Democrat Mike Slattery, and went on to become the chair of the Johnson County Republican Party. He is now the Johnson County Election Officer).
During his time in the House, O’Malley was viewed as a centrist who helped craft legislation that could garner the approval of then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat. O’Malley was instrumental in the creation of the Kansas Economic Growth Act and Bio Science Initiative. He was also part of the bi-partisan group that crafted the bill that met the school funding requirements set forth by the Kansas Supreme Court in a 2005 order.
The boundaries of District 24, which is currently represented by Democrat Jarrod Ousley, shifted during the 2012 redistricting process, but during O’Malley’s time in office, he served the residents of Mission as well as parts of Roeland Park and northern Overland Park.
O’Malley’s exploratory campaign announcement is embedded below: