Politics & Government

Senate prospect to Dems: Stop picking wealthy candidates

The only Democrat who's shown an interest in running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kansas Republican Sam Brownback said Friday the party needs to change its approach to selecting Senate candidates.

Charles Schollenberger of Prairie Village, Kan., a retired communications executive and former journalist, said the party needs to stop recruiting wealthy people who can partially fund their own campaigns.

That's not a very democratic approach — and it hasn't worked, he said.

Schollenberger, 57, spoke to about 20 Sedgwick County Democrats at a luncheon at Larkspur Restaurant and Grill in Wichita.

Schollenberger said that last year the party recruited Olathe businessman Greg Orman to run against Sen. Pat Roberts, but Orman lasted only three months.

The party eventually selected lobbyist and former Rep. Jim Slattery, who lost by a wide margin.

Schollenberger said he's bothered by speculation that party leaders are trying to recruit California pharmaceutical millionaire Thomas Wiggans to run for the seat held by Brownback, who is running for governor.

"The question is, are we going to support one of our own local Democrats, or look to someone from out of state to run for our U.S. Senate seat?" Schollenberger said.

Wiggans could not be reached for comment.

Kenny Johnston, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, declined to comment.

Sedgwick County Democratic Party chairman Kelly Johnston said he didn't know anything about Wiggans.

"I've only heard his name gossiped as a potential candidate. I've never met him, never seen his bio," he said.

Schollenberger has never held elective office. The only time he ran for office was a 1976 campaign for the state legislature in his native Ohio, he said.

Schollenberger reported on agriculture for the Hutchinson News and covered agriculture and financial news for the Kansas City Star in the 1980s before working for advertising agencies in the Kansas City area, he said.

He formed an exploratory committee in June and plans to decide whether to file for Brownback's seat by the end of the year, he said. No Democrat has filed yet.

Read more at Kansas.com

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