HIAWATHA, Kan. — Independent State Sen. Dennis Pyle left the Republican party in June to run for Kansas governor, and there’s concern in the state he could keep Republican challenger Derek Schmidt from beating Democratic incumbent Gov. Laura Kelly.

“I think they’re all going to be upset with me when I beat them both,” Pyle told FOX4 Monday.

Our latest FOX4/Emerson College/The Hill poll shows Pyle trailing Kelly and Schmidt by a lot. Pyle did get nearly 5% of our respondents’ support though. The difference between the support for Kelly and Schmidt was just 3%.

“Oh absolutely,” Pyle said when asked whether he could have an impact on Tuesday’s race.

“Look, you have to ask the question … ‘Who has the most to lose in this race?’ It’s the two-party system. It’s the two parties who are the uniparties, and do they want to relinquish the power of a two-party system? No, they don’t.”

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty has been following the race.

“If it’s super close and Kelly pulls it out, the Pyle factor is huge,” Beatty said in an interview with FOX4 Monday. “If [Kelly] wins like she did in ’18 by three, four, five points, she probably would have won regardless of Pyle, but boy, you’ve got a story if she squeaks out a victory.” 

The Schmidt campaign said D.C.-based Democrats have funded a radio ad recently released that supports Pyle.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Scott Schwab’s office said the group Schmidt’s campaign is referring to, the American Center, is a 501 (c)(4). Therefore, they don’t have to disclose who their donors are. 

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