Political expert weighs impact of independent candidate on Kansas governor’s race

Dennis Pyle
Dennis Pyle(PyleForKansas.com)
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 9:51 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - When you head to the polls in November, you will see another candidate in the Kansas governor’s race. After meeting the necessary 5,000 signatures, Kansas state Senator Dennis Pyle qualified to be on the ballot along with incumbent Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly, Republican Derek Schmidt and Libertarian Seth Cordell.

While some worry Pyle, a longtime Republican turned independent, could split the Republican vote, the Kansas state senator points to the voting records of his opponents which he said tend to skew to the left. He believes there’s room for a more conservative voice.

Sen. Dennis Pyle is a Republican turned independent who is now running for the Kansas governor's seat.

“When you look at the voting records and contrast it, Derek’s trying to define himself as a conservative. What we did is get on the ballot, and I think that’s why they’re desperate,” said Pyle.

The independent candidate said he believes issues like education, health care and voter integrity are legitimate. He said he feels he can address them better than his opponents.

“I don’t think either one of them realizes the base that’s out here has concerns,” said Pyle.

Friends University political science professor Dr. Russell Arben Fox follows election patterns. On the question of whether Pyle can shake up the race, Fox believes that Pyle may not have the financial pull to do it, unlike Greg Orman and his 2014 run for the United States Senate against Pat Roberts.

“Greg Orman was a very wealthy individual, he was able to self-finance to a great degree, he was able to tap into a lot of independent money so he could effectively advertise statewide,” said Fox.

With the November election in sight, it remains to be seen how Pyle will fare and what effect a Republican turned independent may have on the race.

“Will he be a non-entity, or will he truly spoil the election for Derek Schmidt?” Fox questions.

As for Gov. Kelly, Fox believes re-election may be challenging, considering that Kansas has historically been a Republican state and Democrats have needed crossover voter support.

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