Kansas Governor

Kansas Democrats scored critical wins in the last election. Now they’re struggling to transform those victories into Democratic-minded policies, and to hold on to the corners of power they’ve captured.

They meet in their annual convention this weekend to pick party leaders and search for consensus on strategies for governing and see if they can repeat last year’s election wins next year.

The new chairman of the Kansas Republican Party is focused on winning back the governorship and the 3rd Congressional District. He told party leaders this weekend how he plans to do it.

Johnson County attorney Mike Kuckelman was the only one to present a full slate of leadership candidates for party officials to consider at their state convention Saturday.

They say it takes one to know one. As Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly soon will be, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was a Democrat leading the state while Republicans controlled the Legislature. 

Jim McLean of the Kansas News Service spoke with Sebelius about the support from Republicans that helped Kelly overcome competition from Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and independent Greg Orman in the governor's race and what will make her successful in office. 

Democrat Laura Kelly fended off perhaps the most energizing and divisive figure in Kansas politics on Tuesday to become the next governor of Kansas.

Kelly beat out self-described “full-throttled” conservative GOP nominee Kris Kobach, the secretary of state who’d forged a kinship with President Donald Trump while dabbling in anti-immigration and voter fraud crusades across the country.

KMUW/File photo

A new Emerson College poll finds the Kansas governor’s race remains tight, and Democrats might get a win in a Kansas congressional race.

Emerson researchers heard from nearly 1,000 registered voters last weekend who said they were very likely to vote or have already voted in the midterm elections.

Results show the governor’s race continues to be a dead heat between Republican Kris Kobach and Democrat Laura Kelly. The poll suggests Kobach has a slight lead of 44 percent to Kelly’s 43 percent.

Independent candidate Greg Orman captured 8 percent of the vote.

Election Day will be here before you know it. It’s like finals week in your civic life.

So when Tuesday, Nov. 6, arrives, you’ll be ready, right? Because you’ve been cramming by reading up on all the candidates, watching every debate, scouring candidate websites for position papers, of course.

This week, the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee, Kris Kobach, called for more stringent work requirements for Medicaid and welfare recipients in Kansas. That drew more comparisons to former Gov. Sam Brownback from Kobach's Democratic rival, Laura Kelly. 

Meanwhile, Kelly picked up an endorsement from yet another former Republican governor. And independent Greg Orman insisted he’s not a spoiler in the race.

And new congressional campaign fundraising reports in the 2nd District show political newcomer Steve Watkins, running as a Republican, is continuing to get support from his father and a lot of help from U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan's super PAC. In the same period, veteran Democrat Paul Davis's take was a record for the district.

The Kansas News Service team walks through this week’s campaign headlines.


Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service/File photo

Former Republican Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden has endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in this year’s race for governor. That means only one living Kansas governor has stayed totally out of the race: Republican Sam Brownback.

The two top candidates for Kansas governor sparred in a debate over a familiar name: former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

The two distanced themselves from Brownback, who left office earlier this year with sagging approval numbers.

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