Gubernatorial candidates Kelly, Schmidt raise combined $3.6 million during 2021

Two candidates for Kansas office bolster bottom line with $200,000 personal loans

By: - January 11, 2022 10:48 am
The Kansas Farm Bureau's PAC endorses Republican Derek Schmidt in the 2022 governor's race after declining to endorse the GOP gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach in 2018. The Democratic Party's frontrunner is Gov. Laura Kelly. (Photos by Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

The Kansas Farm Bureau’s PAC endorses Republican Derek Schmidt in the 2022 governor’s race after declining to endorse the GOP gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach in 2018. The Democratic Party’s frontrunner is Gov. Laura Kelly. (Photos by Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly outdueled rival Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt in political contributions during 2021, while two GOP candidates for statewide office in Kansas bolstered their fundraising totals with personal loans of $200,000.

Kelly’s report of campaign activity from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, indicated she raised $2.04 million in that period and held $1.9 million in cash at close of the calendar year. Schmidt, who is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for governor, took in $1.63 million during the year and was sitting on $1.3 million at year’s end.

Kelly reported 25,000 contributions during the year and an average donation of $26.

“The governor’s historic, grassroots fundraising record is more evidence that her steady leadership is what Kansans want,” said Shelbi Dantic, manager of Kelly’s campaign. “She’s delivered for Kansans by fully funding schools three years in a row, investing in our roads and bridges, creating and retaining more than 30,000 jobs and billions in new business dollars, and balancing the state’s pocketbook — all while battling a once-in-a-century pandemic.”

In terms of the year preceding an election, contributions to Schmidt set a high water mark among candidates challenging an incumbent Kansas governor. The previous record for a challenger was the $1 million raised by Democrat Paul Davis in 2013 in his race against incumbent GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

Schmidt had 3,600 contributions during 2021, representing donors from all 105 counties. Of his total for the year, 95% of the money came from contributors from Kansas.

“This record-setting finance report reflects the unprecedented enthusiasm among Kansans for supporting Derek Schmidt’s candidacy for governor and his vision to get our state back on track,” said C.J. Grover, Schmidt’s campaign manager. “Kansans want positive change, and Derek Schmidt is poised to deliver it as governor.”


Hefty AG donations

In the campaign for attorney general, Lecompton Republican Kris Kobach reported taking in $425,000, but that total included a $200,000 loan from himself on Dec. 17. Kobach, the former secretary of state in Kansas, had $387,000 in cash at end of the year.

Republican Sen. Kellie Warren of Leawood generated $282,000 in contributions and had $231,000 on hand entering 2022. She made no personal loans to her campaign. Anthony Mattivi, a GOP candidate and a former federal prosecutor from Topeka, raised $135,000 and held $76,000 when the reported period closed in December.

Warren’s total exceeded the off-year fundraising by the last four GOP nominees for attorney general, including Schmidt’s candidacies in 2009, 2003 and 2017.

“Our message of being the only Republican candidate who will fight back and win against the Biden administration and the radical left is clearly resonating across Kansas,” Warren said.

Lawrence attorney Chris Mann, who is the presumed Democratic nominee for attorney general, reported contributions of $192,000 and cash on hand of $160,000. He loaned himself nearly $8,000.


More personal loans

In the race for state treasurer, incumbent Democrat Lynn Rogers began 2021 with $2,500 cash on hand and ended the year with $211,000 in his campaign account. During the year, he generated $237,000 in contributions from about 800 donors.

“We will continue to put in the grassroots effort that is needed to meet with voters across the state of Kansas as we connect with them about their concerns, raise awareness about the work of the state treasurer, and discuss what I hope to accomplish if I earn a second term from Kansans,” Rogers said.

In the four-person Republican field of candidates for treasurer, Rep. Steven Johnson of Assaria reported $403,000 in campaign contributions, including $200,000 in personal loans. He was sitting on $383,000 at close of the year.

Sen. Caryn Tyson, of Parker, took in $164,000 in the calendar year and was holding $155,000 in reserve. Former congressional candidate Sara Weir of Overland Park reported $85,000 in contributions and nearly that amount in available cash. Lawrence resident Michael Austin, who was a lobbyist with Kansas Policy Institute, reported $40,000 in contributions and $17,000 in cash.

Incumbent secretary of state Scott Schwab, an Overland Park Republican, took in $164,000 in donations for the year and had cash reserves of $174,000. His report included $26,000 personal loans from 2018.

His primary opponent, Overland Park resident Mike Brown, raised $127,000 while making a personal loan of $100,000 to his campaign in December. Brown. who reported $127,000 cash on hand, is a Republican and former member of the Johnson County Commission.

Kansas insurance commissioner Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican, raised $153,000 during the year and build a campaign chest of $268,000. She loaned her campaign $5,200 in 2021 and was still carrying $68,000 in loans she made to herself four years ago.

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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. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.