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Barnett: State has image problem
Governor candidate promotes common sense solutions in GB stop
new deh gov candidate jim barnett here pic web
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett visits with Earl and Judy Fox and Wayne Buzz and Betty Banks during the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce coffee Thursday morning at the Great Bend Public Library. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Docking Institute at Fort Hays State releases poll results for governor’s race

HAYS – Among the 19 candidates currently running for governor of Kansas including in a Docking Institute pole, Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, independent businessman Greg Orman and Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer are the most widely known – Kobach by a lot – but Democratic State Sen. Laura Kelly is most popular among the people who know who she is. 

That’s according to the survey by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University. The survey sample was taken from contacts through random landline and cellphone numbers. Of 1,405 Kansas residents age 18 and older who were contacted, 367 completed the survey. The result is a 5.12-percent margin of error, meaning a 95-percent probability that the findings vary no more than plus or minus 5.12 percent from the value that would be found if the entire population of adult Kansas residents were surveyed. 

The poll, conducted from March 19 to April 2, asked two questions. The first listed the 19 candidates asked respondents if they knew each candidate. 

Among all the candidates, 85.2 percent knew of Kobach, 56.7 knew of Orman and Colyer’s name was recognized by 54.8 percent. At the bottom of the recognition list was Libertarian Ethan Randleas and Republican Dominic Scavuzzo, each at a rounded off 3.3 percent. 

The second question asked respondents to rate the candidates they knew using a scale from zero to 10, with zero meaning highly negative and 10 meaning highly positive. 

Kelly, currently the minority whip in the Kansas Senate, and three other Democrats topped that scale, Kelly with a total positive rating of 52 percent – 28.6 highly positive (nine or 10) and 23.4 percent somewhat positive (six through 8). Josh Svaty, former state representative, was second at 51.6 percent (25.8 and 25.8); former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer was third at 47.3 percent (16.3 and 31.0); State Rep. Jim Ward, Kansas House minority leader, was fourth at 36.2 (11.7 and 24.5). 

Orman was fifth, 9.9 and 23.7 for a total positive rating of 33.6. 

The top Republican, Emporia physician Jim Barnett, had a total 31.3-percent positive rating, 3.9 percent highly positive and 27.4 percent somewhat positive. 

The complete report can be found on the Docking Institute’s Kansas Speak page at 

For more information, contact Docking Institute Director Mike Walker, 785-628-5563 or 

 Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett worked the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce coffee Thursday morning at the Great Bend Public Library, admitting to those he chatted with that the campaign is challenging.

“I need to have my head examined,” said Barnett, a former state senator from Emporia who now practices medicine in Topeka.

Indeed, the task before him is a daunting one. He is one of 22 candidates vying for Cedar Crest. This includes nine Republicans, eight Democrats, one Libertarian and four Independents.

Barnett has to first survive the Aug. 7 primary. The crowed GOP field also includes incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and three high school students. 

The general election takes place Nov. 6.

The candidate was on a central Kansas listening tour this week. He stopped in Great Bend after stumping in St. John, Hutchinson and McPherson before a final stop in Atchison on Friday.

“If we elect another (former Gov. Sam) Brownback-like governor, we will never know Kansas like it was,” he said, referring to Kobach and Colyer. The seven-year Brownback-Colyer administration and its failed tax experiment did nothing but harm to the state.

“We have a huge image problem,” Barnett said. “We have black eyes both nationally and internationally.”

It’s time, he said, to restore pride in the Sunflower State.

A moderate Republican, Barnett said he laments the shift to the right, both in Kansas and nationwide. “Kansas has the chance to lead the nation back to the center.”

Key issues for him include education at all levels, roads and infrastructure, economic development and job creation, and the attraction and retention of young people. But, there must be services and ammenities to lure young folks who look for good schools and hospitals, as well as recreational choices.

This all needs to be done through promoting self sufficiency and breaking the cycle of generational poverty while still helping those in need.

“We need a common sense approach,” he said. “Not all problems are because of illegal immigration and voting fraud.”

“We don’t need to raise taxes, we need to raise taxpayers,” he said about providing employment opportunities. He also emphasizes “moving from credits to careers,” meaning there needs to be more focus on post-secondary schooling options besides four-year colleges. 


Barnett was the District 17 state senator from 2001 to 2010, representing Emporia and the surrounding area. 

On August 2006, Barnett won the Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary. Barnett faced the incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the general election in November, losing as Sebelius was reelected for a second term.

In June 2009, Barnett announced that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the United States Congress from the first district of Kansas, but lost the Republican nomination to fellow state senator Tim Huelskamp in the August primary. 

Barnett subsequently resigned his state Senate seat, and resumed his medical career at the Cotton O’Neil Clinic with Stormont Vail Health in Topeka. He is President of the Shawnee County Medical Society and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Kansas Medical Society.

Barnett grew up on his family’s farm in Lyon county, graduated from Reading High School, and earned a degree in chemistry from Emporia State University. He attended the University of Kansas Medical School where he received his doctorate in medicine. He completed his internship and residency training at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

After completing training, Barnett settled in Emporia and worked as a full-time internal medicine doctor. He served on the Emporia School Board for eight years and was President for four of those years, and was also active in the Emporia Area Chamber, Rotary International and his local Baptist church.