Kansas primary candidates learn their fate with all eyes on constitutional amendment vote

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TOPEKA — The Republican and Democratic primaries for Kansas governor were held over months ago, but GOP voters must sort out their partisan nominees for attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer on Tuesday as Democrats choose among six candidates for the United States Senate.

Another notable Republican primary — it’s peculiar and uncompetitive — pits U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, who has served in Congress since 1997, against Derby resident Joan Farr, who is also an official GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Oklahoma.

The August primary will also settle the makeup of the Kansas House’s 125 seats and the Kansas Senate special election.

The conclusion of the primary season will light the fuse in the gubernatorial race between Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the certain Republican nominee. The Libertarian Party candidate is Seth Cordell of Lyon.

Hiawatha State Sen. Dennis Pyle has delivered the petition signatures required to be placed on the November ballot as an independent candidate for governor, but the process for verifying or challenging those signatures is not clear. is not finished.

The four campaigns for US House are expected to gain momentum and test Republican lawmakers’ strategy of gerrymandering the 3rd District enough to help Republican Amanda Adkins pass US Representative Sharice Davids, the only Democrat in the Congressional delegation of the state. The plan involved moving half of Wyandotte County to the 2nd District represented by U.S. GOP Representative Jake LaTurner. That included jettisoning Lawrence from the LaTurner District to the sprawling, rural 1st District served by U.S. GOP Representative Tracey Mann.

Kansas Republicans and Democrats select candidates in contested races for state and federal office on Tuesday while deciding the fate of a proposed Kansas Constitution amendment stripping a woman’s right to be abort in the state. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Modification of abortion

Of course, the candidates have struggled to gain attention in recent months because so much oxygen has been sucked out of the room by opponents and supporters of a proposed Kansas Constitution amendment that would declare that women had no constitutional right to abortion in the state.

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court issued an opinion affirming a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, including abortion. The United States Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June gave all 50 states the opportunity to shape abortion-specific approaches.

Strong interest in the amendment — the first statewide referendum on abortion rights since the end of Roe v. Wade — could help set a record for voter turnout in a primary election and money spent influencing voters on a constitutional amendment in Kansas. Turnout was expected to be 36% after falling from 20.25 in 2014 to a previous high of 34.2% in 2020. More than $11 million was invested in an attempt to persuade voters of the amendment.

All registered Kansans, including libertarian and unaffiliated voters, can vote on the abortion amendment. The convoluted wording of the ballot amendment, which was drafted by anti-abortion lawmakers and lobbyists, has sown confusion over the meaning of a “yes” or “no” vote.

On Monday, thousands of Kansas voters received text messages intended to mislead opponents of the amendment into mistakenly voting for it. In part, the text said that “voting ‘yes’ on the amendment gives women a choice”.

“This is yet another example of the desperate and deceptive tactics of the Value Them Both campaign, lying to Kansas voters,” said Ashley All, spokesperson for the anti-amendment group Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. “The truth is that voting ‘yes’ opens the door to a total ban on abortion. A “no” vote maintains current abortion regulations. A “no” vote protects our constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion in Kansas. A “no” vote keeps the constitution unchanged. A “no” vote prevents government control over private medical decisions. »

Kathleen Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas who served as secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, received one of the texts.

“This misleading text should come as no surprise to anyone,” Sebelius said. “The anti-choice movement has been lying to Kansas voters for decades. This act of desperation will not stop Kansas voters from protecting their constitutional rights and freedom by voting “no” tomorrow. »

GOP rumble for AG

Michael Smith, a political science professor at Emporia State University, said the main one to watch would be the Republican contest for attorney general.

“Perennial arsonist Kris Kobach faces challenges from state senator Kellie Warren and former federal prosecutor Tony Mattivi,” he said. “All point to their conservative credentials, including opposition to many Biden administration initiatives and a promise to get tough on crime.”

Kobach, the former two-term secretary of state in Lecompton’s campaign, came to the race hurt by losses in the 2020 U.S. Senate primary and the 2018 overall race. He brings great notoriety, but the polls reveal that it has many negative points.

Warren, a Leawood attorney who has built a career in civil law, has been endorsed by the Kansas Chamber, Americans for Prosperity and other organizations working to defeat Kobach. Mattivi, a Topekan who has prosecuted terrorists for the US Department of Justice and worked in the attorney general’s office, is the dark horse candidate. The winner will face Democratic nominee for Attorney General Chris Mann, a former Lawrence police officer.

‘Thread the needle’

Secretary of State Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican who replaced Kobach four years ago, drew a primary challenge from former Johnson County Commission Member Mike Brown, who alleged that Schwab n hadn’t sufficiently responded to President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was embroiled in fraud and robbed by President Joe Biden. The Democratic candidate for Secretary of State will be Jeanna Repass of Overland Park.

“Schwab carefully threads the needle by stating that no such fraud has happened in Kansas, which is true, but he forgets to mention that it hasn’t happened in other states either. “Smith said.

The GOP contest for State Treasurer pits State Representative Steven Johnson of Assaria against State Senator Caryn Tyson of Parker. Both have long histories as state lawmakers, which sparked late-campaign controversy over tax votes cast by Republican lawmakers. The winner takes on Democratic State Treasurer Lynn Rogers, who was nominated for the position in 2020.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate options for Democrats include Mark Holland, the former unified government mayor of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. Others on the primary ballot: Mike Andra, of Wichita; Paul Buskirk, of Lawrence; Robert Klingenberg, of Salina; Michael Soetaert, of Alta Vista; and Patrick Wiesner of Overland Park.

Voting reminders

Schwab, who is the state’s top election official, said polls open statewide at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. However, anyone in line when the polls close must be allowed to vote. Voting results will be shared on the Secretary of State’s website, which will go live at 5 p.m. and update numbers throughout the evening.

All absentee ballots returned in person or to a ballot box must be cast by 7 p.m. on Tuesday to be counted. Mail-in ballots postmarked on Election Day must be received at the county election office by 5 p.m. Friday to be added to the totals.

Kansas law prohibits campaigning within 250 feet of a polling place. The restriction includes signs or messages clearly intended to influence or persuade eligible voters. Wearing political clothing, including hats, shirts, buttons or stickers at polling stations, is prohibited.

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