TOPEKA — Following a victory in a contentious race against Republican candidate Kris Kobach, Governor-elect Laura Kelly vowed to be the “education governor” and to bring change to the state of Kansas.
“Whether I earned your vote or not, I want you to know that I will work to earn your trust,” Kelly said in her victory speech. “I am so deeply humbled by the trust that Kansans have put in me. I am honored to lead this magnificent state.”
The Ramada ballroom in Topeka was packed with Kelly’s supporters, who rushed to the stage in anticipation of the governor-elect. Many of them chanted, “Laura! Laura! Laura!” before her arrival.
Kelly promised her supporters she will push for more initiatives that would bring more funding to public education and expand Medicaid. These initiatives would help bolster the amount of residents who stay in the state of Kansas, she said.
"We want our children to graduate from high school or college and find jobs right here in Kansas so they can stay here and raise their families close to home,” Kelly said.
Kelly thanked her two opponents, Kobach and Independent Greg Orman, for their campaigns, which she described as “aggressive and passionate.” She also commended Kansans for putting “people before politics.”
“What happened in Kansas is a wave of common sense — a wave of bipartisanship,” Kelly said.
University of Kansas organizers were surprised by Kelly’s win, particularly as it was called so early in the evening. MSNBC projected Kelly would become the governor at about 9 p.m., which was met with loud cheers in the ballroom.
Kelly concluded her speech by encouraging supporters and voters to celebrate.
“Tonight we celebrate,” Kelly said. “Tomorrow let’s get to work.”
Hailey Dixon and Savanna Smith contributed to this report.