This article can be found in the University Daily Kansan's 2022 voter guide.
Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly, Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Independent Dennis Pyle will run against one another in the Kansas governor’s race.
Back in 2018, Kelly was elected governor, beating her Republican opponent Kris Kobach by five points. From 2005 to 2019, she served on the Kansas Senate representing the 18th district, covering Silver Lake, Rossville, St. Marys and Wamego. Her campaign website says she “has prioritized fully funding public schools, expanding affordable healthcare, reforming the child welfare system and growing the Kansas economy.”
Schmidt was elected Kansas Attorney General back in 2010 and then re-elected in 2014 and 2018. Before becoming the attorney general, he served in the Kansas State Senate from 2001 to 2011. His campaign website says he is a “strong supporter of personal responsibility, individual freedoms and the Constitution.” Schmidt has been endorsed by both former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Independent candidate Pyle served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2001 to 2002 then was elected to the Kansas State Senate to serve from 2005 to the present. On his campaign website, it says “Kansans have witnessed Dennis’ commitment to fight for Christian values, strong schools and an end to corruption in government.”
While 2022 brought many controversial topics to the table, these candidates stayed true to their beliefs throughout the election cycle.
On the topic of abortion, these three candidates all stay true to their political parties.
In a tweet following the outcome of the Aug. 2 primary election, where an amendment concerning abortion access was on the ballot, Kelly said, “Kansans stood up for fundamental rights today. We rejected divisive legislation that jeopardized our economic future & put women's health care access at risk.” Kelly supported the move to keep abortion legal and safe in the state of Kansas.
Both Schmidt and Pyle stand as pro-life on the abortion topic. During the abortion vote, Schmidt said in a statement that he “will join with other pro-life Kansans in casting my vote for Value Them Both.”
Another topic brought up during the election season was the second amendment, the right to bear arms. Kelly's website says “Laura will work to implement common sense gun safeguards – like requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning bump stocks and limiting access to the types of assault weapons that were designed for war.”
Both Schmidt and Pyle are pro-second amendment. On both of their websites, they both state their support for the right to bear arms. On a campaign website, it says Schmidt “vigorously opposes gun, magazine and ammunition bans.”
All three candidates stand strong in investing in K-12 education and creating more opportunities for all Kansans.
Kelly was the only candidate to respond to the questionnaire
Q: For someone who has never heard of you before: Introduce yourself!
Laura Kelly: I began my professional career working in New York with children with severe mental illness and, later in Denver, with children with severe respiratory disease. In 1986, when Kansas became home, I became the first Executive Director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association. For 18 years, I traveled to communities, large and small, working to enhance Kansans’ quality of life. In 2004, I was elected to the Kansas Senate, serving for 14 years. As the Ranking Member of both the Ways and Means Committee and the Public Health and Welfare Committee, I worked across the aisle to deliver for Kansans. In 2018, I ran for Governor to use the knowledge, skill set and relationships I had developed during my time in the Senate to turn Kansas around and put our state back on the path to prosperity. My husband, Ted Daughety, MD and I raised our daughters, Molly and Kathleen, in Topeka. Both are proud graduates of Topeka High School and the University of Kansas.
Q: Housing costs have risen over the last two years due to inflation. In fact, in Lawrence, the average rent has risen 250 dollars per month year-over-year. For many students, that may be unreachable. Do you have a plan to help reduce housing costs, and what is it, if so?
Kelly: Our economic development success over the past 3.5 years has highlighted the drastic need for more moderate-income housing, more childcare options for families, and for internet connectivity and affordability all across the state. During my first term, we completed a statewide housing assessment (first one in 30 years), worked with the legislature to create incentives for developers to build, redesigned some incentives to allow more flexibility in growing the housing stock, and significantly increased the budget of the Kansas Housing Resources Council to spur more housing projects. We will continue these successful investments in my second term.
Q: Student Written Question: Will you use your office to help expand public transit and fight the housing crisis, as these two are intertwined issues? If so, how?
Kelly: When I first took office, our infrastructure was in shambles. Our roads, bridges, and highways were crumbling because the previous administration funneled money away from our infrastructure to fund a reckless ‘tax experiment.’ Now, we’ve turned the ship, and rebuilt our roads, bridges, and highways to make them safe. As a part of our infrastructure program, we made investments in our public transit system so that all Kansans can travel to work, school, and other activities. These investments include local cost sharing initiatives that allow local governments to fund public transportation improvements in ways that serve their communities best. We dedicated millions to improving public transportation across the state. These improvements will make Kansas public transportation more accessible and improve the quality of life across the state.
Q: For many students, another big problem is healthcare and its prohibitive costs, especially for those who are completely on their own for the first time. Average healthcare costs in Kansas are well above the national average. What is your plan to help reduce these costs in Kansas, if you have one?
Kelly: The first step we can take is to finally expand Medicaid. Expansion would expand access to affordable healthcare for over 150,000 hard-working Kansans and boost our economy, creating nearly 23,000 jobs. Kansas has lost out on nearly $6 billion due to our failure to expand Medicaid. We are losing healthcare providers to our neighboring states, all of which have expanded Medicaid. I’ve proposed a plan to expand Medicaid every year since taking office. I’ll propose my fifth plan to the Legislature in January 2023. We cannot wait any longer. We must stop the political games and get this done.
Q: Where do you stand on abortion? Do you believe that abortion law in Kansas needs to be modified?
Kelly: I stand with the majority of Kansans who do not want the government involved in their private healthcare decisions. It’s clear that this issue isn’t a partisan issue. Kansans of all political stripes agree that maintaining fundamental rights and leaving private healthcare decisions to women and their physicians are Kansas values. I will not support any regressive legislation that takes away rights from Kansans or threatens our ability to attract new business to Kansas.
Q: Nationally, LGBT rights, including transgender athletes, have been under attack. Where do you stand on LGBT rights? Do you believe that transgender athletes should compete with their gender of choice?
Kelly: Kansas kids deserve fairness on the playing field and a safe place to go to school. These judgements should be made by the experts, medical professionals, and the KSHSAA – not politicians.
Q: Student Written Question: What specific policy do you support that would mitigate the effects of climate change, and what will you do to ensure this policy is enacted?
Kelly: Of all the challenges and opportunities states face in our rapidly changing economy, few have an impact as far-reaching in our everyday lives – and in our future – as energy policy. I’ve always subscribed to an “all of the above” approach to energy policy, and Kansas is uniquely positioned to lead the way in the development and expansion of clean and renewable energy in particular – from wind to solar to biofuels. My administration approached the infrastructure plan with our future energy needs at the forefront. We dedicated millions in funding to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations along the state’s most traveled highways. We are also incentivizing Kansas companies to develop and export renewable energy technologies. We continue to recruit businesses that prioritize and focus on renewable energy to strengthen the economy, like the new Panasonic plant in De Soto which will expand battery production for electric vehicles – and Invenergy, which will bring high-paying, high-skilled jobs to Kansas and will expand access to clean, renewable energy around the country.
Q: Student Written Question: With so much misrepresentation in state and national levels of government, why should we trust you to represent and vote for us?
Kelly: Four years ago, I ran for Governor in order to get our state back on track, after the prior administration left our state in a really tough place. Schools were underfunded, roads and bridges were crumbling, and our economy was in freefall. And now, despite all the challenges our country faced these last few years, here in Kansas, we are back on track. We balanced our budget every year. We fully funded our schools. We recruited some of the biggest employers in the country to come to Kansas and surpassed more than $14 billion in new business investment. We cut $1 billion in taxes – like the food tax and property taxes. I’m proud of that record. We’ve come a long way – and we simply can’t afford to turn backwards now. Derek Schmidt supported the agenda that drove us into the ditch in the first place – we simply can’t go back to that mess. Kansans face a really important choice this November. We can stay on track and continue working together – with a growing economy, budgets that are balanced, schools that are fully funded, taxes that are lower. Or, we can turn back the clock, and return to the same disastrous policies that broke our budgets and schools and left everyday Kansans to bear the brunt of the consequences. I’ve worked tirelessly to bring people together, to put party aside and politics aside, and do what’s best for Kansas. And now that we’ve steadied the ship, we’re well-positioned for big things. Our best days are ahead of us. I know that we can make Kansas the very best place to live, work and raise a family. I hope to earn your vote again this November.