Midterm results: Democrat Laura Kelly emerges victorious in Kansas governor’s race

Kansas governor race
Incumbent Gov. Laura Kelly (D) squared off against state Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) for reelection in one of the hottest guvernatorial races in the country. AP Photos

Midterm results: Democrat Laura Kelly emerges victorious in Kansas governor’s race

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Incumbent Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) managed to hold off a challenge from Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, averting a red wave from washing over the Sunflower State.

Kelly was the only Democratic governor vying for reelection in a state that former President Donald Trump carried in 2020, which made her a key target for the GOP in the midterm election cycle. Schmidt, who has served as state attorney general since 2011, pummeled her on a range of economic issues in his quest to reclaim the Kansas governorship for the GOP.

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Since 1964, Kansas has backed Republican presidential nominees and hasn’t sent a single Democrat to the Senate since 1932. But Kelly managed to pull off an upset victory in the 2018 race, riding a surge of backlash against former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and apprehension over Republican Kris Kobach in a blue wave year.

Both Kelly and Schmidt largely hewed toward the center during their electoral showdown. Kelly billed herself as a consensus builder and touted her work addressing the state’s fiscal woes and support of tax cuts.

Schmidt hammered her on inflation and other economic hardships hitting the state and accused her of being in step with President Joe Biden’s policy agenda, echoing similar sentiments from Republicans in races across the country.

Despite Kansas’s Republican lean, the state has bucked conservative orthodoxy in the past. Over the summer, voters rejected a referendum that would have permitted the state legislature to ban or restrict abortion heavily. Schmidt maintained that that decision “has to be respected” but pledged to fight for laws aimed at curtailing abortion in the name of protecting the unborn.

Kelly and Schmidt offered diverging ideas on a range of issues such as education, healthcare, and public safety. Kelly backed more robust gun control measures, initiatives to cut state college and university tuition prices, and expanded Medicaid.

Meanwhile, Schmidt has advocated parents having more input in classroom curricula and stronger school security.

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On the fundraising circuit, Kelly hauled in $3.1 million between July 22 and Oct. 27, eclipsing Schmidt’s $1.7 million, per the Kansas City Star.

Sparse polling largely indicated a tight race between the duo. The Kansas gubernatorial matchup was one of four ranked a toss-up by the Cook Political Report.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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