Kansas lawmakers are considering putting an age minimum on the state’s governorship as six teenagers campaign to lead the state in the November election.
Kansas now has no limits whatsoever on the age of its governor. A bill introduced by Republican state Rep. Blake Carpenter would require gubernatorial hopefuls to be at least 18 ― voting age ― and state residents for at least four years. It passed a House committee on Monday, the Kansas City Star reported.
The legislation, even if it becomes law, wouldn’t take effect until after the election to replace outgoing Gov. Sam Brownback (R). All six teen candidates were younger than 18 when they announced their runs.
“We have age requirements on voters, and I really think that anybody who’s running should be able to vote for themselves,” state Rep. Keith Esau (R) told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Detractors say voters already can decide for themselves whether age matters.
Jack Bergeson in August became the first of the youths to announce a run for governor. He was 16 at the time.
“Oh, I could do that.” Bergeson, a Democrat, told the Kansas City Star. He said he supports a higher minimum wage, a high-speed rail system, and open-carry gun laws.
Three more teens, all Republicans, later announced their runs. The four young candidates held an open forum at a high school gym in October to answer questions. The Wichita Eagle noted that they agreed “to some extent” on the need to decriminalize marijuana.
After two more teens ― an independent and another Republican ― added their names to an increasingly crowded list of gubernatorial candidates, lawmakers took action. The field includes just one woman.
Most states have age requirements ― usually 30 ― for people who want to become governor. Vermont is the only other state with no age minimum. A 13-year-old announced his candidacy there back in August.