Following Cox’s announcement of run for senate, 2 Democrats say they’ll run for his seat

Jo Ella Hoye (left) and Laura Smith-Everett have announced plans to run for the District 17 House seat occupied by Rep. Tom Cox, who is running for the state senate next year.

The 2020 election cycle may be more than a year away, but Republican Rep. Tom Cox’s announcement that he plans to seek a move to the upper chamber next year has set off a flurry of early activity.

In the hours after Cox’s announcement that he will seek the District 10 Senate seat held by fellow Republican Mary Pilcher-Cook since 2009, two Democrats have announced plans to seek his District 17 House seat.

Laura Smith-Everett, who lost a close race to Cox in 2018, was the first to make her plans public. And Tuesday morning Jo Ella Hoye, a prominent volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, announced she would file for the race as well.

While neither have held elected office to date, both Smith-Everett and Hoye have been involved in public affairs. Smith-Everett was an intern for Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri during her time as a student at William Jewell College.

In addition to her work with Moms Demand Action, Hoye has worked as an analyst in the Johnson County Manager’s Office.

In her campaign announcement, Smith-Everett said she was driven to address some of the policies enacted during the Brownback administration that she believes have had a negative effect on her community.

“Ultra conservative Republicans in Topeka are out of touch with the citizens of House District 17,” Smith-Everett said. “I am confident that the people of our district support a shared vision of government that works for all of us and will vote to restore our state after nearly a decade of cuts in programs and services for Kansans.”

For her part, Hoye said she hopes to put her background in advocacy work in recent years to use in the statehouse.

“Kansans want their leaders to come together to find commonsense solutions in order to provide the best quality of life for everyone in our state,” said Hoye. “The knowledge and experience that I’ve gained as a local government professional and community advocate have positioned me to be the right person to represent the citizens of the 17th District by listening and working hard to make their voices heard in Topeka.”