Johnson beats Tyson in close Kansas treasurer race as counties certify, but recount pending

·3 min read

State Rep. Steven Johnson finished 475 votes ahead of state Sen. Caryn Tyson in the Republican primary for Kansas treasurer after all 105 counties certified their election results as of Monday.

But the race isn’t over.

Tyson’s campaign put up a bond for just over $2,500 to conduct a full hand recount in four of Kansas’ 105 counties and a partial recount in two. The recount began Tuesday and election offices will have until Saturday to complete the process.

Both candidates are longtime state lawmakers. They are competing to take on Democratic incumbent Lynn Rogers in the November general election.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly appointed Rogers, her lieutenant governor at the time, to the treasurer’s post after Republican Jake LaTurner was elected to the U.S. House in 2020. Rogers’ tenure as treasurer officially began in January of 2021.

Johnson has held the lead over Tyson since election night, but it has remained tight.

In a press release Tuesday, Johnson’s campaign announced it raised $100,000 since Aug. 2.

“We didn’t lose any ground while we waited for all the legally cast ballots,” Johnson said in a statement. “With our base of support we are well-positioned to win the general election.”

Johnson, an Assaria farmer, was first elected to the Kansas House in 2010. He is the former chair of the House Tax committee and currently chairs the House Insurance and Pensions committee.

Tyson, a Parker software engineer, was also first elected to the Kansas House in 2010 and has been in the Kansas Senate since 2013. The conservative Republican chairs the Senate Tax committee.

“We had a great team, a great ground game, my opponent put in 200,000 of his own money and lied about my voting record,” Tyson said. “Obviously, we would have like to seen different results, but it’s just too bad.”

Tyson said she didn’t expect the vote to substantially change in the recount. She stopped short of conceding the race.

The treasurer is Kansas’ chief financial officer.

The office is responsible for distributing the state’s budget and payroll, overseeing the state’s education savings plans, issuing municipal bonds and maintaining a list of unclaimed property in the state.

The state treasurer also holds a seat on the board of trustees for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

The office has historically been a jumping off point for higher office in Kansas.

Two members of Kansas’ current congressional delegation are former treasurers – LaTurner and Rep. Ron Estes, both Republicans.

Former Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who served in the U.S. House for a decade, and Joan Finney, Kansas’ first female governor who passed away in 2001, both spent time as treasurer before ascending to higher office.

Tyson had sought the Republican nomination to succeed Jenkins in the Kansas 2nd Congressional District 2018, but she ultimately lost to Steve Watkins who lasted one term in the seat.

On Friday Tyson requested a recount in 55 counties, which would have cost more than $45,000. She ultimately paid a bond for a more limited recount with a full recount in Cloud, Harvey, McPherson and Ottawa counties. She requested a partial recount in Dickinson and Barton counties. The recount will cost $2,570.

Johnson won in all six counties.

Michael McGraw, campaign manager for Rogers, the incumbent treasurer, said he was frustrated that the process had drug on and that the Secretary of State had allowed Tyson to alter her request.

“The fact of the matter is that this is the result of them indulging the election deniers, and the big lie and the extremists,” McGraw said. “This is the treasurer’s race that decides who gets to control the bank accounts and we seem to have a problem with basic math.