Former U.S. Sens. Dole, Roberts endorse Schmidt in Kansas GOP primary for governor

Candidates Schmidt, Colyer working to secure backing of party stalwarts

By: - July 6, 2021 9:30 am
Former U.S. Sens. Robert Dole and Pat Roberts endorse Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for governor of Kansas. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Former U.S. Sens. Robert Dole and Pat Roberts endorse Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor of Kansas. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Former U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Robert Dole stepped from the sidelines Tuesday to endorse Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s campaign for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022.

The campaign to determine who challenges Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has shaped up as a contest between Schmidt and former Gov. Jeff Colyer, who also served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Sam Brownback.

“In the 25 years I’ve known Derek Schmidt,” Roberts said, “I’ve watched and admired his strong and steady leadership. Derek understands rural America and Kansas agriculture. He is an experienced and trusted leader, and is a proven winner.”

Former Gov. Jeff Colyer makes official hyis campaign for governor in 2022 with an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)
Former Gov. Jeff Colyer, a candidate for the GOP’s 2022 nomination for governor, has been endorsed by U.S. Roger Marshall and U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann, both of Kansas. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

Roberts declined to seek re-election in 2020 after representing Kansas for 40 years in Washington, D.C. His work in Congress coincided with that of Dole, who was in the Senate until winning the 1996 nomination to be the Republican Party’s nominee for president.

Dole said he appreciated Schmidt’s goal of placing needs of Kansans first as he worked to move on the political ladder.

“He’s a strong Republican, and he has what it takes to win and to lead with common sense and decency. I’m proud to stand with my good friend Pat Roberts and endorse Derek Schmidt for governor,” Dole said.

Roberts and Dole made reference in their statements to Schmidt’s track record as a winner of three campaigns for Kansas Senate and three races for attorney general. The idea was to remind voters that Colyer, who served as governor after Brownback’s departure, lost the 2018 GOP primary for governor to Kris Kobach by 0.1%. It was Kobach who fell to Kelly in the general election by more than 50,000 votes.

In that 2018 gubernatorial primary in Kansas, Dole endorsed Colyer and President Donald Trump endorsed Kobach.

Schmidt, 53, said he was honored to receive support of Dole and Roberts in his quest for the GOP nomination in 2022.

“Kansans have been blessed with so many years of honorable, effective and distinguished public service from these two Republican icons, and as one who has looked up to them since I was young, I couldn’t be more proud or humbled to earn their support,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt’s previous endorsements in his campaign for governor include Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, Senate Vice President Rick Wilborn, former Farm Bureau president Steve Baccus and Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden.

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, who replaced Roberts, offered an early endorsement of Colyer. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican seeking re-election in 2022, hasn’t revealed a GOP preference in the gubernatorial showdown.

In addition to Marshall, Colyer has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann, the 1st District congressman who served as Colyer’s lieutenant governor, and Mary Eisenhower, the granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Colton Gibson, campaign manager for Colyer, said the former governor was excited to have conservative endorsements of Marshall and Mann, who both won campaigns in Kansas last year.

“We look forward to a campaign based on our principled conservative solutions for the future contrasted with Derek Schmidt’s history of blowing with the political winds,” Gibson said.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International.