Laura Kelly | KCUR

Laura Kelly

file photo / Kansas News Service

Take a look at the Kansas budget and one item looms large, eating up more state spending than anything else.

Schools swallow about $4.5 billion. That spending rose after an infusion of cash by lawmakers earlier this year in response to a court ruling in a long-running fight over whether state government does enough to support public education.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

You’re rubber ...

Democrat Laura Kelly called baloney on Republican Kris Kobach when he said Kansas can save $377 million a year by denying services and benefits to immigrants in the country illegally. Kobach said there’s no reason an 18-year-old should be forced to get a permit for a concealed weapon. Independent Greg Orman said the state actually needs to impose tighter control on guns. And Libertarian Jeff Caldwell and independent Rick Kloos were happy to be on stage with the frontrunners.

The five candidates for Kansas governor faced off at a forum Tuesday night in Wichita.

It was a rare opportunity for independent Rick Kloos and Libertarian Jeff Caldwell to share a stage with the three major candidates — Republican Kris Kobach, Democrat Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

High-stakes low-profile

Democrat and political newcomer Sharice Davids is leading in multiple polls and recent fundraising in her bid to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder.

Not so much in public appearances.

KCUR’s Sam Zeff explores her apparent lay-low strategy to win in a district that covers the Kansas side of the Kansas City area.

Schooling you on the candidates

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Trumpbach

President Donald Trump came to Topeka Saturday and did what he usually does: Told a thrilled room of supporters how well he’s doing as president.

He also stumped for fellow Republican Kris Kobach in the governor’s race and for Steve Watkins in an eastern Kansas congressional race.

Kobach has said before, and repeated Saturday in Topeka, that he wants to do for Kansas what the president has done for Washington. That, essentially, is the choice in the race between him and Democrat Laura Kelly.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Fresh off a victory that cemented his latest, controversial, pick for the nation’s high court, President Donald Trump came to Kansas Saturday night hoping to transfer his popularity in the state to two fellow Republicans.

Trump arrived just hours after Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court — the most controversial appointment to the court in generations. He was in regular rally form, playing to an adoring crowd of some 10,000 thrilled supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.

President Donald Trump is coming to Kansas this weekend, and some Republican candidates are hoping that will provide them a boost. That includes the Republican newcomer running for Congress in the 2nd District, who’s fending off more questions about his background, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Meanwhile, Kobach's Democratic opponent in the governor's race, state Sen. Laura Kelly, is trying to tie him to former Gov. Sam Brownback.  

Jim McLean, Stephen Koranda, and Madeline Fox of the Kansas News Service discuss whether any of it will sway voters.


Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Boondocks broadband

How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm if they can’t stream Netflix?

The Federal Communications Commission sent seven grants to Kansas totaling $4.7 million to expand  rural access to broadband internet.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

We hardly knew ye

Well, we do know Steve Watkins is a veteran.

But much of the rest of the biography he’s touted in his race for Congress has come under question.

Last week, The Kansas City Star tore down his claims of building a tiny business into something massive.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Hope and change the seat to blue

Former President Barack Obama continues to roll out scores of endorsements in this year’s mid-term congressional elections, hoping to stick his successor with more Democratic resistance on Capitol Hill.

Sharice Davids is among the more than 300 candidates, all Democrats, Obama has backed.

The Kansas economy has been sluggish the past few years, but the candidates running for governor each have a plan to jumpstart things.

Will any of them actually work?

This week, the Democrat, state Sen. Laura Kelly, and the Republican, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, clashed over school funding with the Kansas governor’s race still neck-and-neck.

The race for the 2nd Congressional District in the eastern part of the state is a dead heat too – though new revelations that Steve Watkins only worked as a consultant for a company he said he built from scratch could be trouble for the Republican newcomer.

Jim McLean, Stephen Koranda, and Madeline Fox of the Kansas News Service are watching for what could start to separate the candidates.


Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Who’s in 1st in the 3rd?

The New York Times’ “live” poll of Kansas 3rd Congressional District shows incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder possibly trailing Democrat and lawyer Sharice Davids by eight points. The sample is relatively small -- fewer than 500 respondents.

Another Republican broke ranks this week to endorse the Democrat in the Kansas governor’s race. And an attack from the 2014 governor’s race resurfaced, this time in the battle for a 2nd Congressional District seat. Jim McLean, Madeline Fox, and Stephen Koranda of the Kansas News Service catch up on the latest from the campaign trail. 


Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Campaigning for business

The candidates for governor (let’s avoid “gubernatorial,” on principle) trotted to Wichita Tuesday night to sit for a Kansas Chamber forum and talk about issues relating to the business-happy outlook the group represents.

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach promised to cut taxes to the levels of the early Brownback years and roll back regulations. Yes, he is, as he calls himself, a “full-throttled conservative.”

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

And a quarter-century later …

In 1991, Anita Hill’s testimony that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her nearly stopped him from taking a seat on the nation’s highest court.

Now a California professor has come forward contending that current U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when the two were in high school. Both are tentatively set to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week — perhaps interrupting Kavanaugh’s glide path to confirmation.

Thirty years after its hard turn to the right — driven largely by abortion politics and the anti-abortion Summer of Mercy protests — Kansas is on the cusp of what could be another course-changing event: the 2018 race for governor.

The campaign season is upon us in Kansas. Candidates for governor are hitting the airwaves and the debate stages. Jim McLean, Madeline Fox, and Stephen Koranda of the Kansas News Service discuss this week’s developments. 


Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Independent candidate for Kansas governor Greg Orman will stay on the ballot after state officials rejected a challenge to his candidacy Thursday.

Will Lawrence, a staffer for the state Senate’s top Democrat, had questioned thousands of the signatures Orman used to secure a spot in the race, saying they weren’t collected properly or notarized correctly.

The State Objections Board disagreed. The panel ultimately removed a few hundred signatures because they were collected by a convicted felon.

Legal experts say independent candidate for governor Greg Orman faces at least a potential threat to lose his spot on the ballot in Kansas' general election.

An objection filed with the Kansas Secretary of State's office on Monday targets the signatures Orman gathered for ballot access. The letter was filed on behalf of William Lawrence, the chief of staff for Democratic state Senate Leader Anthony Hensley.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

The moment that figured to clarify the Kansas race for governor instead left it muddled.

Sure, state Sen. Laura Kelly ended up running away with the Democratic primary on Tuesday. And independent candidate Greg Orman had been waiting in the wings for months.

But the still oh-so-close Republican race between incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach tangled the race in the unknown. 

file photo / Kansas News Service

Truth, it’s said, is the first casualty of war. That helps explain why combat metaphors so often get applied to political campaigns.

The battlefield of the Kansas governor’s race bears out the maxim. Even when candidates get their facts right — a surprisingly difficult task for the field — their words tend to twist a broader truth.

Meet 7 Candidates For Kansas Governor

Jul 20, 2018

Kansas is electing a governor this year, a pick that'll go a long way in deciding what direction the state goes on school funding, health care, gun control, taxes and spending.  

The Republican primary field tilts to the right, with the contenders tussling over whose credentials and attitude would be the most effective in fulfilling a conservative agenda. Democrats voting on Aug. 7 have to wrangle with whether to go moderate or hold tight to a progressive platform.

Host Steve Kraske interviewed the leading candidates from both parties on KCUR’s Up To Date. 

The Kansas Democratic party hasn’t had a gubernatorial primary since 1998. The unfamiliar competition this year is forcing Democrats across the state to wrestle with their identity ahead of the Aug. 7 election.

Should their nominee be a candidate who aligns strictly with the progressive ideals of the party platform, or someone with broader appeal? Do they go with experience and name recognition, or youthful exuberance?

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

A revival of rural Kansas can come from drawing businesses and housing to the centers of small cities and by building better highways, gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly said Monday.

In a plan she says could invigorate rural areas, the Democrat also calls for propping up small grocery stores, expanding Medicaid coverage, reopening state offices closed in recent years and fixing deteriorating housing in those areas.

The Democrats running to be Kansas’ next governor brushed off the idea of a tax increase to cover the state’s needs during a Democratic forum in Wichita on Wednesday night sponsored by KMUW and KWCH.

State Sen. Laura Kelly said it’s too soon after repealing the Sam Brownback-era tax cuts to talk about a tax increase.

“We need to let the dust settle,” Kelly said. "We have no idea the full impact of that or the full impact of the federal tax cuts that have occurred."

Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer was clear that he doesn't support a tax increase.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: State Sen. Laura Kelly makes her case in the race for Kansas governor.

In Kansas' crowded field of candidates for governor, there is a lone woman running. Today, we met Laura Kelly, the Senate Minority Whip whose district stretches along Highway 24 from Wamego to Topeka. She discussed her multi-continental childhood, her passion for education and her plans to bring the state back from the financial brink.