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In State Board of Education Races, Incumbents Clifford, Jones Lose; Porter Wins

TOPEKA, Kan. (KASB) – In complete but unofficial results, two members of the State Board of Education were defeated in the Republican Party primary on Tuesday. Jean Clifford, of Garden City, was defeated by Cathy Hopkins, of Hays, in the District 5 race. Hopkins received 54 percent of the vote to Clifford’s 46 percent. And Ben Jones, of Sterling, lost to Dennis Hershberger, of Hutchinson in the District 7 race. Hershberger defeated Jones, 59 percent to 41 percent. Both Clifford and Jones were seeking their second four-year terms.

Also in the GOP primary, State Board of Education Chairman Jim Porter, of Fredonia, held off a challenge from Luke Aichele, of McPherson. Porter, in his second term, gathered 61 percent of the votes to Aichele’s 39 percent.

There are no Democratic candidates in those three races, so Porter, Hopkins and Hershberger will likely win in November.

In a statement last night, Jones said, “I will serve out the final five months of my term with zeal and peace knowing every vote I took bettered kids’ lives. It is now the duty to make public education stronger. The fate of Kansans now rests on his (Hershberger’s) shoulders and the 48 school districts within District 7.”

In November, two other State Board seats will have contested races. In District 1, Democrat Jeffrey Howards will face Republican Danny Zeck. Both are from Leavenworth and they will be vying for the seat held by Democrat Janet Waugh. The Legislature changed boundaries of District 1 to where Waugh no longer lives within the district.

In District 3, Republican incumbent Michelle Dombrosky, of Olathe, will face Democrat Sheila Albers, of Overland Park.

The addition of Hopkins and Hershberger will bring more conservative voices to the 10-member board. Both candidates were supported by state Sen. Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson, who is a frequent critic of COVID masking and vaccines.

Hopkins ran unsuccessfully last year for the Hays USD 489 school board. On her campaign website, Hopkins says she has lived in Kansas most of her life and raised her six children here.

On Hershberger’s website, he says he is a lifelong resident of Reno and Harvey counties and that his careers have included nursing, manufacturing, transportation and farming.

For more on the 2022 primary, please go to KASB’s Election Information page at this link.