WICHITA – Jack Bergeson, 16, Wichita, will be too young to vote for himself next year as he runs for governor.
But he won’t be too young to win or too young to serve.
“The law is silent on qualifications for governor,” said the Secretary of State’s Director of Elections Bryan Caskey. “There’s nothing in the law – there’s no age, no citizenship, no residency, no nothing,” he said. Other offices have required qualifications, but that’s not true for governor, he said.
Bergeson and his running mate, Alexander Cline, 17, will start their high school junior year this week at The Independent School, Wichita. Both were born in 2000. Cline, with a February birthday, will be 18 and eligible to vote in the primary and general elections in 2018. Bergeson’s birthday is in December, and he will be unable to vote in either election. He will be 18 years old by the time the new governor is sworn in in January 2019.
“I will be running with the Democratic Party, as they are the closest to my values and are the non-incumbent party, which helps strengthen my anti-establishment message,” Bergeson posted online.
Caskey said the filing fee for governor-lieutenant governor tickets has not been set yet, but it will be close to $2,000. Bergeson said he has raised the money to cover the fee.
“Really, it kind of came together spontaneously,” Bergeson said of the campaign that sent its first document to the state in 2016. It was his idea, but Cline was very supportive and became the running mate. The teens have been pages in the state Senate, and a photo shows the two, plus Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, and sitting in for governor that day, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who might be running for governor in 2018, too.
The Bergeson-Cline platform includes:
Minimum wage: “The lowest minimum wage we would accept is $12, though $15 per hour would be ideal.”
Health care: “One of the first acts of a Bergeson/Cline executive administration would be the overhaul of the Health Care system in Kansas.”
Marijuana: “Though many people may think Marijuana is taboo, we believe legalizing it (for medical and recreational uses) could be beneficial in several ways.”
Gun control: “The Bergeson-Cline campaign supports Open Carry and the right to open carry on state property.”
Taxes: Higher taxes will be necessary, but the campaign pledges to hold steady or lower income taxes on families making less than $60,000 a year.
Schools: “We are proposing a 7.5% increase in teacher pay across the state, with an additional 5% increase in particularly struggling schools or districts to attract quality teachers and administrators.” Legalized marijuana proceeds could help pay costs.
Rail: “Our administration will lobby the federal and local governments to help re-establish intracity rail service on Amtrak.” A northeast line serving Manhattan, Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City is proposed.
Campaign finance: The campaign is not accepting donations in excess of $500 from any one person or corporation, and it won’t accept money from any corporation that is against any of the campaign’s core planks.
The candidates don’t hold identical philosophies.
“I would say I’m more libertarian,” Cline said. He referenced the German philosopher Hegel and the idea that out of the thesis and opposing antithesis can emerge a synthesis, as he talked about the benefit of a ticket with more than one vantage point.
The two stand united on an anti-establishment foundation and admire others who challenged the status quo, such as former presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader. In a nod to Sanders’ followers on Twitter who used the hashtag feelthebern, Bergeson uses the hashtag feeltheberg
Bergeson also admires his late great-grandfather, B.J. Bergeson, a farmer who served in the Minnesota House of Representatives.