Democrat Chris Mann files for attorney general, calls for ‘public safety not politics’

Lawyer’s career as police officer ended when struck by drunken driver at traffic stop

By: - May 26, 2022 12:56 pm
Chris Mann, an attorney and former police officer, filed for the Democratic Party's nomination for attorney general Thursday in Topeka. Three prominent candidates are seeking the Republican Party's nomination in the Aug. 2 primary. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Chris Mann, an attorney and former police officer, filed for the Democratic Party’s nomination for attorney general Thursday in Topeka. Three prominent candidates are seeking the Republican Party’s nomination in the Aug. 2 primary. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Former police officer and prosecutor Chris Mann filed Thursday to seek the Kansas Democratic Party’s nomination for attorney general.

Mann, of Lawrence, would compete in the general election against winner of the Republican primary Aug. 2 among former U.S. attorney Tony Mattivi, former Secretary of State Kris Kobach and state Sen. Kellie Warren. The filing deadline is June 1, and Mann doesn’t yet have a primary opponent.

There is no incumbent candidate for the job because GOP Attorney General Derek Schmidt is campaigning in the gubernatorial race against Democratic Gov. Laura kelly.

“I am running for attorney general to focus on public safety not politics,” Mann said during a brief rally on steps of the Topeka building housing the attorney general and secretary of state.

Ellen Hanson, a former Lenexa police chief and lifelong Republican, endorsed Mann’s candidacy. She said she knew the value of voting for the right people for important jobs and was convinced Mann would form productive relationships with the state’s law enforcement agencies.

“He is someone who is going to be a great partner with law enforcement,” she said. “He is someone who will work tirelessly for the entire population of the state.”

In 1998, Mann became the youngest officer in the Lawrence Police Department. He joined the department while a junior at the University of Kansas. In doing so, he followed in footsteps of his father, who also worked in Kansas law enforcement.

“I knew I had found my calling. Every day I got to go out and help citizens in my community and do things to make peoples’ lives better,” he said.

His career in law enforcement came to a premature end on a cold night in January 2002. During a traffic stop at 3:30 a.m., he was walking along the roadside when struck by a drunken driver traveling at 50 mph. His injuries were extensive and prohibited return to work in law enforcement. He enrolled in law school at Washburn University in Topeka and accepted a position with the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office handling cases ranging from homicides to traffic offenses.

He later prosecuted white-collar criminals preying on the elderly while a special assistant attorney general with the Kansas Securities Commission. He subsequently established a law practice in Lawrence, which concentrated on DUI offenses.

He worked with the Kansas Legislature to improve road safety through reform of DUI law in the state, including statute mandating ignition locks on vehicles driven by people charged with DUI.

rom that experience, he was appointed to the national board of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 2014. He assumed a national platform while the board’s chairman, serving in that role until 2020.

“This past year,” Mann said, “I knew it was time to serve Kansas in a different way. That’s why I’m running for attorney general to make sure that offices is focused on public safety and public service — not politics.”

Pressed for an example of politicization of the office of attorney general, Mann said an attorney general could be distracted by politics of piling onto federal lawsuits involving, for example, election law. Schmidt, in his role as attorney general, signed onto numerous cases with other GOP attorneys general.

In 2020, Schmidt added his name to a lawsuit spawned in Texas and supported by more than a dozen other state attorneys general. It was designed to toss voting results in four states and possibly undo President Donald Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

“I’m going to make sure we’re not distracted by politics. I will only be working in the best interests of all Kansans,” he 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.