The first Secretary that I actually knew was Elwell Shanahan, originally from Smolan. Her two brothers, for four terms, carried my petitions to file for State Representative. Successors to Elwell included Jack Brier, Bill Graves, and Ron Thornton—all good men who ran an honest shop without favor to one party or individual. Then, in 2008, we were introduced to a different kind of public servant, Kris Kobach, who is now the Republican nominee for Governor. This is setting up a choice between Kobach’s Republican successor and Brian “BAM” McClendon, a Democrat who brings very interesting skills and a commitment to restore not just sanity to the office but new ideas to better serve the voters and citizens of Kansas.
BAM—and I’m told that name will be on the ballot—is a Kansan who went to California and had huge success. He co-founded the company that became Google Earth and now has returned to Kansas to serve his native state, something that not enough Kansans who exit do. In a nutshell, BAM has the technology skills, the leadership experience, and the public service commitment to be the right person to undo the damage done by Mr. Kobach and set a new and better course for the office.
Secretary Kobach spent too much time on out-of-state immigration issues and figuring out new ways to discourage and/or stop some voters from voting—then more time and taxpayer money on defending those actions, largely unsuccessfully, in court. BAM is committed to doing the actual work of the job: protecting the right to vote, improving services for our Kansas business community, and increasing transparency and access to official state information for all Kansans.
With all the legitimate concern about the security and integrity of our election systems, it is more important than ever that our Secretary of State have a background in technology—and especially leadership within technology. BAM can lead improvements to the process that will help provide assurance to the voters that their vote was properly recorded and counted. And, instead of a Secretary of State focused on voter suppression, we can have one who is committed to increasing voter participation and citizen engagement with our government.
It is rare that someone with Brian “BAM” McClendon’s skills and experience steps up for public service. It will be up to the voters of Kansas to make their choice. I urge all voting Kansans to take a serious look at BAM and the opportunity we have as Kansans to elect a Secretary of State that is not only uniquely qualified but is such a marked and welcome contrast to Kobach.