KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The political landscape in the Kansas Gubernatorial race shifted dramatically this week after Jeff Colyer announced he was dropping out of the race. Colyer announced he’d been diagnosed with cancer and planned to instead focus on his health and medical practice.
FOX4’s John Holt and The Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling are joined by Katie Bernard, a political reporter for The Kansas City Star and Patrick Miller, a KU Political Science professor, to discuss the implications in this week’s episode of 4Star Politics.
“As a reporter, I was definitely surprised.” Bernard said about Colyer leaving the race. “I was having robust conversations just last week with Colyer’s campaign staff, and so this definitely seemed to come out of the blue. I think it likely did for the Colyer campaign, and the Schmidt campaign as well.”
Colyer’s decision throws some question into the upcoming Kansas Gubernatorial primary. Colyer had been running against against current Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
“The clearest thing it means politically is, you know, we’ve got a period of time when we might see another candidate jump into the race, but you know, there’s evidence that the party might build a race around Derek Schmidt and take him as their primary candidate to the general,” Bernard said.
There is speculation that Wink Hartman may declare his candidacy. Hartman ran a failed campaign for Kansas Governor in 2018, before dropping out of the race. Kris Kobach eventually named Hartman as his Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate. The Kobach-Hartman ticket was defeated by Laura Kelly and Lynn Rogers.
Even before Colyer announced he would no longer peruse the Govenor’s office, he faced an uphill battle that would have taken an incredible amount of effort and time to win.
“If this hadn’t happened, I do think he certainly faced a tough road to the nomination, as Schmidt would have. It was a primary that didn’t really happen. It started to take shape with some endorsements. Each candidate would have had a lot of challenges but a legitimate chance,” Miller said.
Miller said that one of the major challenges Colyer would have needed to overcome to win the Republican nod was his previous ties to former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.
I think for Jeff Colyer, you know, in some ways I think he was the weaker candidate because of that historical tie to Sam Brownback,” Miller said. “I mean if you’re a Republican and you really want to make sure the Brownback legacy is dead and buried and doesn’t come back up, why would you nominate Sam Brownback’s running mate?”
Colyer announced his endorsement for Schmidt’s campaign following his exit.
The winner of the Republican nomination will take on the incumbent Laura Kelly in 2022.
FOX4 and The Kansas City Star are partnering to bring you 4Star Politics, a special digital venture with new episodes released Wednesdays at 5 p.m.