OLATHE, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly is hoping to earn another term as Kansas’ top state official, but she’ll face some tough competition before voters decide this fall.
Multiple outlets have deemed Kansas’ gubernatorial race a toss-up, considering a Democrat is hoping to defend her seat in a traditionally red state after a turbulent COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the focus for the governor’s race has been on November, but first, Kansas residents will be asked to cast their votes in the August primary.
All primary candidates are listed in ballot order with links to campaign websites or social media, if available.
Kelly and Toland will face Karnowski, a tax preparer from Emmett, and his running mate Franco.
On the Republican side, Attorney General Derek Schmidt is vying for the state’s top seat as well. He’s already been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Schmidt’s running mate is Katie Sawyer, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and former journalist. If elected in November, the 38-year-old Sawyer would be the youngest Republican lieutenant governor currently serving in the U.S. and only the second woman to serve in the position in Kansas.
Kansas lieutenant governors have little formal role in state government other than duties assigned to them by governors, such as Toland serving as state commerce secretary.
But over the past 20 years, two of the state’s five governors have left office early, elevating their lieutenant governors to the top position and putting more focus on the role.
In the primary, Schmidt and Sawyer will face frequent candidate Briggs and Berland, both of Kincaid.
The Iola Register reports Briggs has been arrested three times this summer. In June, he was charged with making threats against a law enforcement officer in Allen County. Most recently, he was accused of disabling a tracking device and traveling to Missouri, where he was arrested.
But political forecasters are already looking ahead, expecting the biggest competition in the Kansas gubernatorial race will likely come after the primary. Experts predict voters will advance Kelly and Schmidt to the general election.
But what those voters decide in the general election still isn’t clear.
Two early polls performed last year came to different conclusions. One poll by Clarity Campaign Labs, a liberal-leaning firm, found Kelly had a narrow lead over Schmidt at the time. Meanwhile, another survey by Remington Research Group, a subsidiary of a Republican political consulting firm, indicated voters preferred Schmidt over Kelly.
There is also one Libertarian candidate, Seth Cordell, and one Independent candidate, State Sen. Dennis Pyle, in the Kansas gubernatorial race. Neither of these men will appear on primary ballots but instead will move on to the general election.
Polling locations are required to open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in Kansas, but counties can open sites as early as 6 a.m. If you are in line by 7 p.m., you have a right to cast your vote.
All registered voters can find their polling location on the Kansas Secretary of State’s website. Some polling sites might have changed since the last election.
Advance voting is also available in Kansas, starting July 13, with in person and mail-in options. Check with your local county election office for more information on how to vote early.
FOX4 will share Missouri and Kansas primary election results after polls close Aug. 2 on air and on fox4kc.com.