Kansas is in Trouble: The Three Competitive Candidates for Governor

State Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka announced Thursday that fellow lawmaker Lynn Rogers would run on her ticket for governor. PHOTO: Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

This November, a battle is brewing for Kansas’ gubernatorial race. After a hotly contested primary, Governor Colyer conceded the race to Secretary of State Kris Kobach for the top spot on the Republican ticket.

State senator Laura Kelly slid to a large victory margin in the Democratic primary. She beat out a crowded field that included popular former Mayor of Wichita, Carl Brewer.

Another notable candidate for Kansas Governor is independent businessman Greg Orman. Kansans will remember him from his 2014 senate run where he lost to incumbent Senator Pat Roberts.

So why will this race in conservative, solid red Kansas be close?

We lack a strong candidate.

Greg Orman

While I would like to like the independent for governor, there’s just too many questions surrounding him.

He has an odd political history. At a young age, he was a fan of President Reagan and worked on George H.W. Bush’s campaign in 1988. Formerly, a registered Republican, Orman switched parties in 2007.

He ran for the US Senate in Kansas as a Democrat in 2008, eventually dropping out. Orman donated to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Franken, and other Democrats leading up to the 2008 election.

After the 2008 election, however, he left the Democratic party to become an independent and donated to Republicans in 2010 to try to halt the passage of the Affordable Care Act and claims to have voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.

In recent campaign events, it seems he’s competing with Democratic nominee Laura Kelly, who he once donated too in 2008.

If you head to his campaign website, you’ll see that all his stances on issues are vague and lack substance. He says some good things and some not so good things, but it’s hard to really tell because he never discusses specific policy ideas. Orman claims that the two-party system failed and Kansans are suffering from it. Ok. Point made. How are you going to fix it? He never says.

Kansans just don’t know what to expect from him. He’s gone from conservative with President Reagan to progressive with President Obama. Orman is too vague and unpredictable.

Laura Kelly

Senator Kelly may try to paint herself as a more centrist Democrat, but she’s trying. That’s the problem, she’s not a centrist. If you go read on her campaign website, you’ll pick up the hints that she’s much more in line with liberal ideology.

All over the site, she speaks of spending. Kansas doesn’t have any money to spend so expect higher taxes. Pointless and costly incentives to attempt to revitalize rural communities highlight most of her agenda.

One such program she wants to start is to incentivize artists to move to rural communities. Really? The solution to the plight of Kansas’ many rural farming communities is painters, dancers, singers, and other artists? What will really help those communities is finding ways to broaden the appeal of Kansas made products and Kansas farm produce across the globe. Bring in more money for the farmers and they can expand their operations and help grow those local towns by bringing in new businesses.

Kelly wants to roll-back Governor Colyer’s privatization of KanCare, which is one of the best things that could have happened for the state healthcare system. She wants to expand Medicaid which will lead to less money in Kansans pockets. The private market is better suited to determine what Kansans really need from their health insurance, not government bureaucracy.

She also claims to support the 2nd Amendment and rights to hunting and self-defense. Firstly, that’s not why we have the 2nd Amendment. Secondly, take this quote from her campaign site “limiting access to the types of assault weapons that were designed for war”. There are many issues with this statement. Most notable is that these “assault weapons” are very popular for hunting, which she claims to support. However, the biggest issue is that the AR-15 was not designed for war. A military variant was later designed from the base AR-15, the M-16, when the need arose during the Vietnam War a few years after the original AR-15 was made.

Let’s not buy into her lie that she supports the 2nd Amendment because she’s just like any other liberal when it comes to gun rights.

Kelly must fight Greg Orman more than she does Kris Kobach. Orman has the appeal among the kind of voters Kelly needs if she’s going to beat Kobach in November. While there are many Republicans and conservatives dissatisfied with Kobach leading the ticket, not many will defect, and most will fall in line behind him.

Overall, Laura Kelly would not be suitable for Kansas governor. Her goals as governor do not align with those of most Kansans. Even if she was a centrist Democrat she probably wouldn’t win because most Kansans have an inherent distrust and distaste for Democrats since 2010.

Kris Kobach

Kobach is a divisive figure that has made a reputation for himself across the country. A close ally of President Trump, who endorsed him leading up to the primary, Kobach has been a part of forming the President’s agenda on immigration and voting security. Kobach was a major player in the President’s ill-fated Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Short version, a waste of taxpayer money. Kobach’s political identity hinges on his stances on illegal immigration and claims of widespread voter fraud.

One of his major points for the gubernatorial election is that Kansas has become the sanctuary state of the Midwest. He makes these claims on his campaign site, however, he gives no substance on how he will fix it, or evidence to support his statement.

Kobach says he’s a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment as well. While he might be, he’s completely wrong for his reason why. This comes straight from his campaign site, “Allowing citizens to protect themselves and their families is a Constitutional right that is bestowed on every American”. As a self-proclaimed conservative, there is no excuse for this. True conservatives know that the 2nd Amendment is to help keep the government in check and fight an oppressive, tyrannical government.

The Secretary of State also wants to, yup you guessed it, cut taxes. I’m a conservative, I want low taxes, but what Governor Brownback did and what Kobach seems keen on repeating, was the wrong way of going about it. This would be detrimental to the already fragile Kansas economy and would cause wide disapproval.

One thing that Kobach wants to do and I actually like, is that he wants to term-limit all statewide officials. It’s part of his anti-corruption campaign that also includes new legislation to prevent former legislatures from becoming lobbyists. How he plans on doing that, he doesn’t say, but it’s an idea I fully support.

Overall, Kobach too would be unfit for Kansas governor. He would bring back many economic policies of the Brownback Administration that really hurt Kansas.

This race will be close because frankly, the candidates aren’t good. In the end, I think Kris Kobach will take the reigns in Topeka. Orman is going to snag many moderates and independents Kelly needs to beat Kobach, giving Kobach a slight victory come November.

About Alex Bunting 4 Articles
Reagan Conservative Kansas State University '21 B.S. Medical Biochemistry

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