Why AP called the Kansas governor’s race for Laura Kelly

Nov 9, 2022, 12:06 PM | Updated: 12:15 pm
Supporters cheer for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly as she speaks during a watch party Wednesday, Nov. 9, ...

Supporters cheer for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly as she speaks during a watch party Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, in Topeka, Kan. Kelly was facing Republican challenger and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at what led The Associated Press to call the Kansas governor’s race:

WHY AP CALLED KANSAS GOVERNOR FOR LAURA KELLY

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly ultimately had enough of a lead that her Republican challenger couldn’t have caught her, even if he’d won all outstanding votes.

That’s what enabled the AP to call the Kansas governor’s race for Kelly on Wednesday.

Seeking her second term in Republican-leaning Kansas, Kelly was the only Democratic governor running for reelection this year in a state carried by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

Republican challenger Derek Schmidt, the state’s three-term attorney general, aimed to tie her to President Joe Biden, blaming the two Democrats for high inflation.

Much of the race seemed to turn on how many independent and moderate GOP voters stayed with Kelly after lifting her to victory four years ago. In that race, Kelly faced then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a nationally known hardline provocateur on immigration and voter ID issues.

ABORTION ANTAGONISM

Kansas has had strong anti-abortion majorities in its Legislature for 30 years, but voters have regularly elected Democratic governors. The party was energized in August by a statewide vote decisively rejecting a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have cleared the way for tighter restrictions on abortion or a ban of the procedure.

The first test of voter sentiment after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade came in Kansas, with heavy turnout in a primary that typically favors Republicans but was a major victory for abortion rights advocates.

Kelly opposed the proposed amendment, which would have added language stating that it does not grant the right to abortion, saying changing the state constitution would “throw the state back into the Dark Ages.”

Supporting the measure, Schmidt told the Catholic television network EWTN before the election that “there’s still room for progress” in decreasing abortions, without spelling out what he would sign as governor.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.

And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

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Why AP called the Kansas governor’s race for Laura Kelly