'We are done with you': Kansas Republicans turn on each other following Democratic governor’s reelection

'We are done with you': Kansas Republicans turn on each other following Democratic governor’s reelection

One of the many disappointments that Republicans suffered in the 2022 midterms came when incumbent Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly was reelected and narrowly defeated Republican nominee Derek Schmidt. Kelly’s victory wasn’t a landslide, but she won by 2 percent. And Schmidt’s GOP supporters are disappointed that a centrist Democrat won a second term as governor in a deep red state that hasn’t gone Democrat in a presidential election since Lyndon B. Johnson defeated Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Since Kelly’s victory, there has been, according to the Associated Press, some angry infighting among Kansas Republicans who supported Schmidt and Kansas Republicans who supported an independent candidate, Dennis Pyle. Schmidt’s supporters are pointing the finger at Pyle and his supporters following Schmidt’s defeat; Pyle won about 2 percent of the vote, and Schmidt lost to Kelly by 2 percent. In Kansas, a Libertarian candidate, Seth Cordell, won around 1 percent of the vote.

AP’s John Hanna explains, “Many Republicans blame independent State Sen. Dennis Pyle's campaign for Kelly's narrow reelection victory November 8 over three-term Republican State Attorney General Derek Schmidt. But five hard-right lawmakers said in a Facebook statement this week that GOP ‘establishment manipulations’ were the culprit and denounced the state party's chair. While Republicans nationally are unsettled by ex-President Donald Trump's bid to win back the White House in 2024, the Kansas conflict boiled over because State GOP Chair Mike Kuckelman convened the party's Loyalty Committee the day after the election. The Committee enforces a party ban on its officials supporting non-Republicans."

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On the Facebook page of Kansas State Sen. Mark Steffen, a group of Kansas Republicans railed against Kuckelman and posted, “Kuckelman and the Republican establishment, we are done with you.”

Steffen, in an e-mail sent on Thursday, November 17, Hanna reports, Steffen declared, “I fix problems. I do not run from them. As such, it is Republican Christian values that I adhere to and advance. Values that build great societies.”

Schmidt was a right-wing candidate, but as Pyle supporters see it, he wasn’t right-wing enough.

Hanna observes, “The hard right remained skeptical of Schmidt despite his conservative record as attorney general. He was an aide to moderate Republican U.S. senators early and served as Kansas Senate majority leader with a moderate Senate president before being elected attorney general in 2010. Pyle also was among the (Kansas State) Legislature’s most conservative Republicans before leaving the GOP to run for governor. Kuckelman and other GOP leaders contend Pyle took votes from Schmidt and decreased Republican turnout by making conservatives less enthusiastic about him.”

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