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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has announced his campaign to run for governor in 2022.

“As Attorney General, I’ve helped keep our citizens safe,” Schmidt said in a tweet. “Now, I’m running for governor to bring common sense & conservative leadership back to the Sunflower State.”

Schmidt is the first GOP challenger to officially announce his run against Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. Last week, former Gov. Jeff Colyer moved closer to announcing his campaign after announcing Mary Eisenhower as his campaign treasurer.

Top Republican lawmakers said they haven’t intentionally been trying to boost Schmidt’s visibility by pushing legislation that would give the attorney general a check on the governor’s power during future emergencies. Schmidt has clashed with Kelly during the pandemic, including by objecting to her unsuccessful attempt last spring to restrict indoor religious services.

Schmidt also has increased his political profile by joining battles over the 2020 election, siding with fellow Republicans who have spread former President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud even though he acknowledges the legitimacy Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. He is also involved in legislative debates over gun rights and has backed a proposal that would require high school students to pass a civics test to graduate.

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.

Schmidt has served as attorney general since 2011.