At least 16 candidates have declared they are running for governor.

Ten Republicans and six Democrats had filed as of last week.

This near-historic crop is altogether welcome.

The large number of candidates suggests a widespread belief that “I can do better than the present governor.”

For some, if not many, this is entirely possible. 

Most candidates are making more moderate noises than they might have four years ago.

A majority of Kansas voters in 2016 showed they were tired of extremism.

This was particularly true in the Republican Party. It was already true in the Democratic Party.

The common wisdom is that this large number of primary candidates gives the advantage to incumbent office holders who have run for statewide office before.

This may be true, but is not the last word.

Large primaries bring out new voters who may be energized to keep on working for the causes they believe in. They can affect the final outcome of an election.

If the leading candidates are identified with extreme policies, as is the case in the 2018 Republican primary, their wide name recognition may actually be a hindrance.

And as we saw in the GOP presidential primary last year, for better or worse, also-rans can unexpectedly break out ahead of favorites.

There is also the Bernie Sanders phenomenon, in which an unlikely, somewhat radical voice surprisingly sweeps up a large share of a disenchanted party.

As Yogie Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” This is certainly true with the 2018 primary races for Kansas governor.

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