Political expert discusses takeaways from Kansas midterm

Sedgwick County voters vote on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.
Sedgwick County voters vote on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.(KWCH)
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 9:53 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The day after the 2022 midterm election, 12 News is looking at big takeaways from results that saw Kansas’ governor win a second term and the state’s polarizing former secretary of state win the race for Kansas attorney general.

Though the race for Kansas governor was highly competitive, Wichita State University Associate Professor and Political Science Department Chair Dr. Neal Allen said a victory for incumbent Laura Kelly wasn’t surprising. But the path was significantly different than in 2018 when Kelly won her first governor’s race.

Dr. Allen pointed to Democrats not having large success in Sedgwick County this time around, as well as in other areas of Kansas outside of the northeast.

“It was clearly a falloff in Democratic votes from four years ago,” Dr. Allen said. “Kelly won by six percentage points (in 2018). It looks like one to two percentage points now.”

Dr. Allen also pointed to Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Mann’s struggle to garner votes in rural Kansas counties. This combined with another factor, led to the win for Kris Kobach.

“What probably saved Kobach was that there was no libertarian in the race. If there was a libertarian, I think he would’ve lost,” Dr. Allen said.

Dr. Allen said he believes what’s being played out on the national stage with who could control the House and Senate is being echoed in Kansas.

“Kansas seems to have followed the national trend that Republicans gained from four years ago, but not as much as we would’ve expected in an off year with an unpopular Democratic president,” Dr. Allen said.

Pointing to a historical pattern where attorneys general tend to run for governor, he predicts Kobach will be a serious candidate for Kansas governor in 2026.

“I think we’ll see a lot of Republicans because it’s going to be an open seat, and also, the Republicans should be favored at that point,” Dr. Allen said.