Kansas Gov. Kelly and AG Schmidt focus on Brownback, Biden in debate

Katie Bernard, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Political News

In their Wednesday debate, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Attorney General Derek Schmidt focused in on two politicians who were not on the stage and won’t be on the ballot in November — the president and a former governor.

The second and final debate in the race for Kansas governor was hosted by the Johnson County Bar Association at the Double Tree Hotel in Overland Park, where Kansas attorneys and politicos in attendance enjoyed a banquet lunch as the two contenders traded barbs.

Kelly, the Democratic incumbent, leaned on her record over the last few years and returned to a common refrain comparing GOP nominee Schmidt to former Gov. Sam Brownback.

Meanwhile, Schmidt insisted the comparisons were disingenuous and sought to tie Kelly to Democratic President Joe Biden whose national approval rating fell to 40% this week after persistent inflation, according to a Tuesday poll from Reuters and Ipsos.

The campaign for Kansas governor has heated up in recent weeks with Kelly and Schmidt trading barbs over education policy and funding.

On questions of education, budget and taxes Kelly repeatedly invoked memories of budget woes prompted by Brownback’s tax experiment and Kansas’ decadelong legal battle over school funding.


By contrast, Kelly said, she had brought fiscal responsibility to the state.

Schmidt accused Kelly of overspending. On education, he said her administration had failed students by closing schools at the beginning of COVID-19. More needed to be done, he said, to involve parents in their kids’ education.

Kelly said Schmidt had little ground to speak on the issue.

“I have a hard time being lectured by you, Derek, about our public schools,” Kelly said. “Let us remember it was you in the court defending the cuts to education under the Brownback administration.”


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