Lawrence man breaks with GOP, wants new 'centrist' party

Posted at 9:09 AM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 10:09:39-05

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence businessman Scott Morgan has "broken up" with the Republican party and wants to start a new relationship with a political party formed for centrists in Kansas.

Morgan, a GOP moderate, who ran unsuccessfully in 2014 to unseat Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, posted a letter online this week that explained why he wanted to start the Party of the Center, The Lawrence Journal-World reported .

"This is hard to write but I think we shouldn't hang out together anymore," Morgan wrote. "I'd like to say it's not you, it's me. But I kind of think it is you. I know that's harsh but you've changed and I just feel we're going in different directions."

While the letter was humorous, Morgan said he's serious about starting a new party.

"What we've realized is that parties have fundamentally changed over the last 120 years," he said. "And you see this throughout the economy, where things have been disrupted by technology, by the way we have changed regulatory schemes. Parties, the same thing. It just hasn't reacted to it yet."

Most of the people working with Morgan are from Douglas and Johnson counties and feel the two major parties have been taken over by left and right fringes.

"We're smart enough to know these haven't worked in the past, but we think the past is the past, and with all the changes the time is right," he said.

Kansas law requires organizers of a new party to collect petition signatures equal to 2 percent of all the ballots cast in the last election for governor in order to be recognized and get candidates on the ballot. Based on the 2014 gubernatorial race, the Party of the Center would have to collect about 18,000 signatures.

After that is accomplished, a new party must nominate at least one candidate for a statewide office each gubernatorial election cycle, and its candidates must get at least 1 percent of the vote to keep its recognition.

Morgan said the party will recruit candidates for all offices, not just high-profile races, which is different from current independent candidates like Greg Orman, the unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate in 2014 who is said to be considering a bid for governor in 2018.

"My issue with an independent candidate is, that affects one, typically high-level office, the state's governor or Senate, and it does nothing down-ballot," Morgan said. "It does nothing for building a bench so you have a sustainable way to move forward."

Currently, only the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties are recognized in Kansas.

University of Kansas political science professor Patrick Miller said it's unlikely the new party will be successful.

"You don't have a big margin of politically involved people who dislike both parties," he said. "You have an electorate that largely likes their side, hates the other, and the people who dislike both parties, and in theory might be open to supporting a third option, are also the least likely to participate or care that a third option exists."


Information from: Lawrence Journal-World