A look at who’s running for office in Kansas this November


Mia Hennen

Sarah Jane Crespo, director of community engagement at KMUW, speaks to a group of panelists about the upcoming midterm election in Kansas.

With the midterm election approaching, Kansans only have five days left to register to be eligible to vote on Nov. 8 this year.

On Tuesday evening, KMUW hosted a panel of individuals with a background and knowledge of Kansas politics at Roxy’s Downtown. Panelists ran through the major candidates running for local and state office in Kansas.

“It is so easy to just mark Democrat, Democrat down the ticket or Republican, Republican down the ticket,” LaWanda DeShazer, from the Wichita Branch of the NAACP, said. “Let’s really look at the issues.”

Kansas gubernatorial (governor) election

Democrat Laura Kelly and Republican Derek Schmidt have emerged as the leading candidates in the race for the governor seat in Kansas. 

Laura Kelly currently serves as governor in Kansas and is fighting for reelection. Some notable campaign points of Kelly’s include focusing on the state’s economy and funding education. 

“Kelly is kind of mentioning, you know, a solid Kansas economy with … the lowest unemployment rate in state history,” Dylan Lysen, a news reporter for the Kansas News Service, said.

Kelly has helped bring plans to build an electric vehicle battery plant by Panasonic Energy to Johnson County, a deal expected to create nearly 4,000 jobs.

“As a Democrat … in a very Republican government, she kind of serves as a stop for a lot of the more conservative things that the Republicans tried to pass,” Lysen said. “That is a major part of her appeal for some people.” 

Derek Schmidt has been the attorney general for the last 12 years in Kansas. One of Schmidt’s focuses is the economy, especially nationally.

“The rate of inflation nationwide is rising quickly, and he thinks Kelly is a big problem for that,” Lysen said. “He wants to address that, and I think a lot of that will come with tax cuts.” 

Lysen noted that Schmidt wants to take another look at a bill, that Kelly vetoed, that attempted to ban transgender athletes from competing in women and girls sports.

“A lot of those things that were vetoed [by Kelly] are things that he wants to pass,” Lysen said.

More information about Kelly and Schmidt can be found at laurakellyforkansas.com and schmidtforkansas.com

Attorney General Race

Attorney generals represent public interests and counsel the state’s agencies and legislatures. Republican Kris Kobach and Democrat Chris Mann are the candidates at the front of the race for attorney general.

Kobach ran for governor in 2018 and lost to Kelly before running in the 2020 Senate race and losing to Roger Marshall, one of Kansas’ two senators.

“He’s a very polarizing figure in Kansas,” Lysen said. “He’s polarizing within Republican circles as well.”

Kobach wants to focus on national issues that were topics of heavy discussion, especially during former President Donald Trump’s administration. Mann is more concerned with state issues and bringing the attorney general job back to basics.

“Kobach has a history of focusing on the Mexican border and illegal immigration and, now, election fraud and things like that. In this election, he’s still focusing on national issues,” Lysen said. “Mannn is saying, the attorney general should be focused on state issues and protecting Kansans, like against consumer fraud.”

Mann has won the endorsement of the Kansas Livestock Association, which tends to back Republican candidates.

“Endorsements don’t necessarily tell you how people are going to vote, but it is pretty telling about how even Republican circles, how they feel about Kobach – and it’s not good,” Lysen said.

More information about Kobach and Mann can be found at kriskobach.com and chrismannforkansas.com.

Statewide Constitutional Amendments

Similar to how the Aug. 2 primary had a constitutional amendment on the ballot, this midterm, two amendments will be presented to voters.

Legislative Veto Amendment

The legislative veto amendment or “Legislative Oversight of Administrative Rules and Regulations,” if passed, would allow legislatures in the Kansas government to override the Governor on rules and regulations.

“Rules and regulations are basically policy decisions that the governor makes for the state offices, like the Department of Health and Environment and Department of Education,” Lysen said.

This constitutional amendment has been met with mixed views since the Kansas legislature currently has a supermajority of Republicans.

“The Republican supermajority would be able to say ‘we don’t like those rules that Governor Kelly set that she has the legal authority to set’ and nix them, so it raises a lot of political questions,” Lysen said.

A “yes” would be in favor of this legislative veto, while a “no” would be in dissent. More information about the amendment can be found at ballotpedia.org.

County Sheriff Election Amendment

If Kansans pass the “Election of County Sheriffs” amendment, most counties in the state would be required to elect their sheriff instead of having one appointed. Currently, counties are also allowed to not have a sheriff in the spirit of consolidation.

Removing a sheriff from their role would also change if this amendment were passed. 

“If passed it … would mean that only the state attorney general or a recall election could remove that sheriff,” Celia Hack, news reporter for KMUW, said.

A “yes” vote is in favor of passing this amendment and requiring an election for county sheriffs. A “no” opposes this amendment.

More information about the amendment can be found at ballotpedia.org.

Important dates

Oct. 18 – Final day to register to vote in midterm election

Oct. 24 – Early voting begins at Sedgwick County office

Nov. 1 – Last day to request mail-in ballot

Nov. 8 – Election day

More information about the election

The entire midterm election rundown recording presented by KMUW can be found at kmuw.org.