Tagkansas

Stories about Kansas

Kansas Amendment 2 would require most county sheriffs to be elected

On Nov. 8, Kansas voters will decide on a ballot measure, Amendment 2, to require the election of county sheriffs in counties that had not abolished the office as of January 2022 and provide that sheriffs may be recalled from office or removed by a writ of quo warranto initiated by the attorney general. Currently, only one county, Riley County, of the state’s 105 counties does not have a sheriff. Amendment 2 would provide that the other 104 counties cannot eliminate their elected sheriff’s office.

Under current state law, voters can also recall a sheriff by submitting a petition containing valid signatures equal to at least 40% of the voters who voted in the last sheriff election.

The amendment has received support from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), Kansas Sheriffs Association, and Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. Attorney General Schmidt said, “The office of sheriff has deep historical roots, and the longstanding practice of election rather than appointment makes sheriffs uniquely accountable to the people. I commend the large bipartisan majorities in the Legislature for giving Kansas voters the opportunity to enshrine the elected office of sheriff in our state constitution, and I look forward to supporting and campaigning for this amendment this fall.”

The amendment is opposed by State Representatives Sydney Carlin (D), Mike Dodson (R), and Dennis Highberger (D), as well as Kurt Moldrup, the interim director of the Riley County Police Department. State Rep. Michael Dodson (R) said, “If a county wishes to have a sheriff, that’s a great choice. Likewise, if a county wishes to consolidate, they should be able to do that.”

Kansas voters will also be deciding on another constitutional amendment on Nov. 8 to authorize the state legislature to revoke or suspend an executive agency’s rules and regulations by a simple majority vote.

From 1995 through 2022, the state legislature referred 11 constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved eight and rejected three of the referred amendments.



All candidates for Kansas House of Representatives District 86 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Kansas House of Representatives District 86 — Silas Miller (D) and Rick Lindsey (R) — completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. These survey responses allow voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them to run for office. 

Eighty-eight of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers will hold regularly scheduled elections in 2022. The Republican Party controls both chambers of Kansas’s state legislature. Kansas is one of 13 states with a divided government.

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?            

Miller:       

  • “Silas is determined to reduce the tax burden on working-class families and help create an economy that benefits everyone by raising wages, better housing opportunities, and supporting job training and workforce development.”
  • “Silas will work toward solutions for the education system in Kansas. We need to pay teachers more, and restore their due-process rights.”
  • “Silas will fight for environmental protection and reducing human-influenced climate change.”

Lindsey:                   

  • “Economics – we must make Kansas as affordable as possible in these inflationary times.”
  • “Education – At the top of my priorities is ensuring students get the same quality education regardless of physical address.”
  • “Fund essential services – Make sure healthcare options are available for all without relying on Feds. for delivery of services. Control costs where possible!”

Click on candidates’ profile pages below to read their full responses to this and other questions.

We ask all federal, state, and local candidates with profiles on Ballotpedia to complete a survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Ask the candidates in your area to fill out the survey.

Additional reading:

Kansas House of Representatives elections, 2022



Three candidates running for Kansas state treasurer on Nov. 8

Incumbent Lynn Rogers (D), Steven C. Johnson (R), and Steve Roberts (L) are running for Kansas treasurer on Nov. 8, 2022. Rogers and Johnson have led in fundraising and media attention.

Gov. Laura Kelly (D) appointed Rogers Kansas treasurer in 2020, and he assumed office in Jan. 2021. He was the lieutenant governor of Kansas from 2019 to 2021 and represented Kansas State Senate District 25 from 2016 to 2019. Rogers’ career experience includes working as an agriculture banker. Rogers described himself as “a commonsense leader who has a passion for education and improving the lives of average Kansas families” and said he had “a proven track record of working to solve problems for Kansans by finding bipartisan solutions.” Rogers emphasized his experience managing the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS), saying, “We put $1.8 million back to our beneficiaries and we want to make sure that we continue to do that.”

Johnson has represented Kansas House of Representatives District 108 since 2010. His professional experience includes working for Ameriprise, a financial services firm, and agricultural nonprofits the K-State Foundation and the Kansas 4-H Foundation. On Johnson’s campaign website, he emphasized government efficiency, saying, “I’m always looking for ways to increase efficiency and eliminate waste. As Treasurer I’ll look out for taxpayers and work hard to stop wasteful government spending.” Johnson also said “eliminating woke ESG investment strategies” was one of his top priorities because “ESG funds only invest in companies based on their environmental and corporate policies, making returns on investment a secondary concern.”

In the 2018 election, Jacob LaTurner (R) defeated Marci Francisco (D) 57.7%-42.3%. LaTurner left office after being elected to represent Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District in 2020. Before Rogers, the last Democratic state treasurer in Kansas was Dennis McKinney (D), who served from 2009-2011.

According to the official website, the treasurer “ensures safe and efficient operation of state government through effective banking, investment, and cash management. In short, the State Treasurer is the Chief Banker of the State.” The treasurer is also a board trustee of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, a member of the Pooled Money Investment Board, and a member of the Committee on Surety Bonds and Insurance.



Sharice Davids (D), Amanda Adkins (R), and Steve Hohe (L) are running in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District

Incumbent Sharice Davids (D), Amanda Adkins (R), and Steve Hohe (L) are running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District.

This race is a rematch of the 2020 general election, when Davids defeated Adkins 53.6% to 43.6%. Hohe also ran that year and received 2.8% of the vote. Davids was first elected in 2018, when she defeated then-incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) 53.6% to 43.9%. Yoder had been in office since 2011.

The Kansas City Star’s Daniel Desrochers said, “After Adkins lost to Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids by 10 percentage points in 2020, the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew the district. … [It] went from one Democrats won in the presidential race in both 2016 and 2020 to boundaries that former President Donald Trump would have won in 2016 and President Joe Biden would have narrowly flipped four years later.”

The Cook Political Report’s PVI (Partisan Voting Index) for the old district was D+2, while the score for the redrawn district is R+1. President Joe Biden (D) would have carried the redrawn district in 2020 with 51.2% of the vote to former President Donald Trump’s (R) 46.7%, while Trump would have carried it in 2018 with 48.2% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 42.9%.

Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, worked as a lawyer and non-profit executive serving Native American communities before coming into office. Davids was one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, alongside former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), and was the first openly lesbian Native American elected to Congress.

Adkins is a former congressional staffer who served as chairwoman of the Kansas Republican Party from 2009 to 2013. Adkins also served on the executive committee of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and was a vice-president at the Cerner Corporation for 11 years.

Davids has focused on economic issues and said her willingness to work with Republicans on bipartisan legislation would help bring manufacturing jobs to Kansans. “I worked with both parties to boost manufacturing right here in America,” Davids said. “From health care to infrastructure to agriculture, I’ll work with anyone, regardless of party, to do what’s best for Kansas.” Davids has also highlighted her support for abortion rights. “My position is clear: I believe people have a right to make their own health care decisions, not the government, and I have stood up against extreme politicians who want to take away that right,” Davids said.

Adkins said Davids’s voting record is too aligned with the Biden administration and does not reflect the will of Davids’s constituents. Adkins also said the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a measure Davids voted for, was responsible for the increase in inflation in 2022. Adkins said, “Paying more for goods and services? Thank Sharice Davids, who voted for the $1.9 trillion spending bill that has fueled inflation to a 40-year high.” Adkins has also focused on immigration and said she supports building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 118th Congress. All 435 districts in the House are up for election. As of September 2, 2022, Democrats hold a 219-211 advantage in the U.S. House with five vacant districts. Republicans need to gain a net of seven districts to win a majority in the chamber.



Four candidates running for governor of Kansas

Incumbent Laura Kelly (D), Derek Schmidt (R), Seth Cordell (L), and Dennis Pyle (Independent) are running in the general election for governor of Kansas on Nov. 8, 2022.

This is the only governorship Democrats are defending in 2022 in a state that Donald Trump (R) won in 2020. Major independent observers rate the election as a toss-up.

Kelly was first elected in 2018, defeating Republican Kris Kobach by a margin of five percentage points. Kobach defeated then-incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) in the Republican primary by 343 votes, or one-tenth of a percentage point. At the time Kelly was elected, Republicans had held trifecta control of Kansas state government for eight years, preceded by eight years of divided government. Democrats have not had a majority in either chamber of the Kansas State Legislature since 1992.

Schmidt was elected Kansas attorney general in 2010 and re-elected twice.

According to The Kansas City Star‘s Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard, the last time a Democratic governor was elected while a Democratic president was in office was in 1978, and the last time a Democratic governor won re-election under a Democratic president was in 1968. Shorman and Bernard wrote, “Throughout modern Kansas history, Republicans and Democrats have regularly traded control of the governor’s office. But another rule that has also held firm over the past 50 years is that incumbent governors don’t win reelection when their party also holds the presidency.”

On July 26, 2022, the Topeka Capital-Journal‘s Andrew Bahl wrote that the election was “shaping up to be the most expensive in state history,” with Kelly and Schmidt having spent a combined $3.7 million at that time. According to Shorman and Bernard, Kelly and Schmidt have been “running a general election-style race since September 2021,” and “[b]oth Republicans and Democrats have centered the race about Kelly’s record.”

In Kansas, the lieutenant governor is elected on a joint ticket with the governor. Kelly’s running mate is incumbent Lt. Gov. David Toland (D), Schmidt’s running mate is Katie Sawyer (R), Cordell’s running mate is Evan Laudick-Gains (L), and Pyle’s running mate is Kathleen Garrison (Independent).

This election is one of 36 gubernatorial elections taking place in 2022. There are currently 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic governors. The office of governor is the only executive office that is elected in all 50 states.



Kobach wins Republican primary for Kansas attorney general

Kris Kobach defeated Tony Mattivi and Kellie Warren in the August 2, 2022, Republican primary for Kansas attorney general. The seat is open because incumbent Derek Schmidt (R) ran for governor.

Kobach served as the Kansas secretary of state from 2011 to 2019. Kobach ran unsuccessfully for Kansas governor in 2018, losing to Laura Kelly (D) in the general election. Kobach campaigned on creating a litigation team that would sue the Biden administration for what he describes as violating federal law. Kobach pointed to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) lawsuits against the federal government as a model for Kansas: “My objective is for Kansas to stand side by side with Texas so that more lawsuits can be brought and people will see that there are two states leading the charge against the Biden administration.” In addition to creating a litigation team within the attorney general’s office, Kobach’s campaign website listed prosecuting voter fraud, restoring pro-life laws, removing fees on conceal carry licenses, and cracking down on scams as his top issues.

Mattivi is a retired U.S. assistant attorney. Mattivi ran on his experience as a prosecutor, saying voters should choose him because “you’ll have a choice and it’s a choice between the career prosecutor or the career politician. And I hope you agree with me that our chief law enforcement official ought to be a law enforcement official.” Mattivi said his focus as attorney general would be fighting crime: “I’m not going to sit in my office thinking about creative ways to sue the federal government because there are other things that are more important to our state like keeping us safe.” He listed fighting government overreach, backing law enforcement, protecting the Constitution, and enforcing the law as his top issues.

Warren is a member of the Kansas Senate, a position to which she was first elected in 2020. In 2018, she was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. Warren said voters should choose her because of her experience in the legislature: “With me, you have the record you can depend on of a battle-tested conservative who fights and wins. I win tough elections. I win policy battles that you care about. And I win in the courtroom as well. That’s what we need in our next attorney general.” Warren said she has a track record of defeating Democrats in elections, and has referenced Kobach’s loss to Gov. Kelly (D) in 2018 as a warning to voters: “Losing elections has consequences. We are paying a high price in Kansas for having lost in 2018. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Warren listed defending the Constitution, protecting the Second Amendment, and limiting government overreach as top issues.

Kobach, Mattivi, and Warren expressed support for the Kansas No State Constitutional Right to Abortion and Legislative Power to Regulate Abortion Amendment, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot on August 2, 2022. Kansans rejected the amendment 58.78% to 41.22%. The measure would have amended the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion.



Kansans reject amendment to provide that the state constitution does not secure a right to abortion

Kansans rejected an amendment to provide that the state constitution does not secure a right to abortion on August 2. With 100% of precincts reporting, the vote was 58.78% ‘No’ to 41.22% ‘Yes’.

Based on unofficial results, 908,745 people voted on the constitutional amendment compared to 727,360 in the gubernatorial primaries and 718,545 in the U.S. Senate primaries. Turnout on the amendment exceeded overall turnout at the 2018 (457,598) and 2020 (636,032) state primaries.

Democratic voter turnout, relative to total turnout, for the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primaries were also at their highest since at least 2014.

  • Of those who voted in the gubernatorial primaries, 38% voted in the Democratic primary compared to 33% in 2018 and 20% in 2014.
  • Of those who voted in the U.S. Senate primaries, 35% voted in the Democratic primary compared to 32% in 2018, 24% in 2016, and 20% in 2014.

Kansas is the seventh state to vote on an amendment addressing constitutional interpretation and abortion. These types of amendments are designed to address previous or future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. In Kansas, for example, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Bill of Rights provided a state constitutional right to abortion in 2019.

Since 2014, voters in four states – Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia – have approved such amendments. The last state to reject one was Florida in 2012. The next state to vote on this type of amendment is Kentucky on November 8, 2022. 

In Kansas, the Value Them Both PAC led the campaign in support of the amendment. Supporters included U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall (R) and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R). The campaign received $6.03 million through July 18, including $2.95 million from the Archdiocese of Kansas City.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom led the campaign in opposition to the amendment. Opponents included Gov. Laura Kelly (D) and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-3). The campaign received $7.35 million through July 18, including $1.39 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

The constitutional amendment was the first abortion-related ballot measure to be decided following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, where the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade. Both campaigns issued statements placing the amendment within the context of that decision. Value Them Both said, “The U.S. Supreme Court restored the people’s ability to come to individual consensus on abortion limits — but not in Kansas. As it stands today, unelected judges in Kansas are the ones who will decide the fate of abortion limits.” Kansans for Constitutional Freedom said, “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. On August 2, Kansas will be the first state in the nation to vote on reproductive freedom following this decision.”

In November, voters will decide on four more abortion-related ballot measures. Beside the constitutional amendment in Kentucky, measures will be on the ballot in California, Montana, and Vermont. Voters in California and Vermont will be the first to decide ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. Michigan, where signatures are being verified for an initiated constitutional amendment, could join California and Vermont as well. In Montana, voters will decide a measure to provide that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons and must receive medical care after an attempted abortion, induced labor, cesarean section, or other method. A campaign in Colorado is collecting signatures for an initiative to prohibit abortion in the state.

Additional reading:

2022 abortion-related ballot measures

History of abortion ballot measures



Election officials in Kansas expect higher voter turnout at Aug. 2 primary due to abortion amendment

On August 2, Kansans will vote on political parties’ nominees for federal and state offices, as well as an amendment to provide that the state constitution cannot be interpreted to create or secure a right to abortion. 

The ballot measure could increase turnout above that for previous midterm primaries in recent years according to Fred Sherman, election commissioner for Johnson County. Sherman said, “We are anticipating an unprecedented or record-breaking voter participation rate for our August primary.” In Sedgwick County, election commissioner Angela Caudillo said, “Typically, elections like this run about 20-30% turnout. We’re expecting potentially 50% turn out.” KCTV 5 reported that officials in Wyandotte County were expecting 40%-45% turnout.

On July 29, the office of Secretary of State Scott Schwab projected that turnout would be around 636,032 or 36% of registered voters. Schwab said, “… abortion is a compelling issue, and there’s strong opinions on both sides. That’s always going to be an issue that some people go and vote for.”

Since 2010, the average non-presidential primary turnout has been 25.6%, with a range of 20.2% in 2014 to 34.2% in 2020. The highest turnout at a midterm primary election during this period was 27.1% in 2018. 

Kansas uses a semi-closed primary for congressional and state-level elections. Voters already affiliated with a political party can participate only in that party’s primary. An unaffiliated voter can declare his or her affiliation with a political party on the day of the election and vote in that party’s primary. However, an unaffiliated voter does not need to declare an affiliation to vote on the constitutional amendment.

In the legislature, sponsors proposed the constitutional amendment as a response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), which held that the Kansas Bill of Rights “affords protection of the right of personal autonomy,” including “decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.”

Kansas is the seventh state where voters will decide on an amendment to provide that the state’s constitution cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. In 1986, Massachusetts was the first state where voters decided, and rejected, this type of constitutional amendment. In Florida, voters rejected an amendment in 2012. Since 2014, voters decided, and approved, similar amendments in four states – Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In November, Kentucky will be the eighth state to vote on this type of constitutional amendment. 



Kansans will vote on the first abortion-related measure on August 2 following SCOTUS ruling

On August 2, Kansans will decide on a constitutional amendment to state that nothing in the Kansas Constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion. It would also say that the legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion. 

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the Kansas Bill of Rights “affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life—decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.”

The amendment was first introduced during the 2020 legislative session, but it did not receive the necessary votes to make it on the ballot. It was re-introduced in the 2021 legislative session, where it passed each chamber with the necessary two-thirds supermajority vote. The vote was along party lines—Republicans supported and Democrats opposed the amendment.

Value Them Both is leading the campaign in support of the amendment. Following the Dobbs ruling, the campaign said, “The U.S. Supreme Court restored the people’s ability to come to individual consensus on abortion limits — but not in Kansas. As it stands today, unelected judges in Kansas are the ones who will decide the fate of abortion limits. The Value Them Both Amendment is a reasonable approach and will ensure Kansas does not remain a permanent destination for the most extreme and painful abortion procedures.”

The campaign reported over $6 million in contributions as of July 18, 2022. The campaign has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall (R), former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R), the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, and the Kansas Catholic Conference. 

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom is leading the campaign in opposition to the amendment. The campaign reported over $7.4 million in contributions. The campaign has received endorsements from Gov. Laura Kelly (D), U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, and Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. 

Gov. Kelly (D) said,”[A]nybody who’s been alive in Kansas in the last six months knows that we have an amendment on the primary ballot that would essentially overturn the (state) Supreme Court ruling and say that women’s reproductive rights are not protected under the constitution. If people in the state of Kansas vote no on that amendment, then the status quo will remain. And women’s reproductive rights will remain constitutional here in the state of Kansas.”

In Kansas, abortion is prohibited after 22 weeks, except in cases of life or health endangerment. Kansas also requires a licensed physician to perform an abortion, an ultrasound before, a 24-hour waiting period after state-directed counseling, and parental consent for minors seeking an abortion.

This will be the first vote of at least five abortion-related ballot measures appearing on statewide ballots in 2022. Like Kansas, voters in Kentucky will decide on a constitutional amendment saying that nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion.

In California and Vermont, voters will decide on constitutional amendments to provide explicit rights related to abortion. In Vermont, the Legislature placed an amendment on the ballot to provide that individuals have a state constitutional right to personal reproductive autonomy. Currently, the right to an abortion is provided by state statute in Vermont. California voters will see an amendment on their ballots in November that passed the state legislature after the Dobbs ruling. It would provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives. Voters in Michigan could also vote on an initiative providing a state constitutional right to abortion.

Montana voters will decide on a legislatively referred law to require medical care for infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method. It would also classify them as legal persons under state law.

Since 1970, there have been 47 abortion-related ballot measures, and six of these were ballot measures designed to provide that state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. Voters approved four (66.7%) and rejected two (33.3%) of these six ballot measures. Amendments were rejected in Massachusetts (1986) and Florida (2012). Amendments were approved in Alabama (2018), Louisiana (2020), Tennessee (2014), and West Virginia (2018).

In Kansas, most polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time, as Kansas mandates in its state laws that the polls must be open a minimum of 12 hours. Counties may open the polls earlier and close them later.

Additional reading:

Kansas 2022 ballot measures



Contested state legislative primaries down in Kansas House this year

Fifteen percent (38) of 125 possible contested state House primaries in Kansas this year are contested by multiple candidates. One-hundred and twenty-five state House seats are up for election this year.

A primary is contested when more candidates file to run than there are nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

The 38 contested primaries this year include 12 Democratic primaries and 26 Republican primaries. For Democrats, this is the same as in 2020. For Republicans, that number decreased 10% from 29 in 2020 to 26 in 2022.

Seventeen of the 38 contested primaries feature an incumbent, representing 17% of incumbents who filed for re-election. This is the lowest rate of incumbents in contested primaries in the chamber of the past five election cycles.

Overall, 228 major party candidates—93 Democrats and 135 Republicans—filed to run for the state’s 125 House districts.

Twenty-three House districts are open this year, meaning no incumbents filed. This guarantees that at least 18% of the chamber will be represented by newcomers next year.

Kansas has had a divided government since voters elected Gov. Laura Kelly in 2018. Republicans currently hold a 29-11 majority in the Senate and an 86-39 majority in the House.

Kansas’ primary elections are scheduled for Aug. 2. The Kansas Senate holds elections every four years during presidential election cycles.

Additional reading:

Kansas House of Representatives elections, 2022