“Stability, practicality, less-is-more all ought to be guiding principles,” he said in a pre-announcement interview. “Most Kansans, generally, prefer instinctively conservative leadership.”
Many Republicans are still smarting over Kelly’s 2018 defeat of polarizing conservative Kris Kobach after Kobach, who was Kansas’ secretary of state at the time, narrowly defeated Colyer in the GOP primary.
Republicans have criticized Kelly for months over her pandemic response, including a five-week statewide stay-at-home order, the closure of K-12 school buildings last spring and her attempts to impose mask mandates. They also have highlighted ongoing problems with the state’s unemployment system.
“No. 1, Republicans want to beat Laura Kelly,” said former Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican. “And No. 2, they want an authentic, reliable conservative in that seat.”
Kelly has professed indifference to the emerging race. Her campaign issued a statement Friday saying that she’s not focused “on an election that’s two years away.”
Both Schmidt and Colyer are running as limited-government conservatives who oppose abortion, limits on gun rights and an expansion of the state’s Medicaid health coverage for the needy. They’ll also play to Trump’s supporters in a state Trump carried comfortably in two elections. Both also come across as affable and usually low key.