Kansas officials affirm Pyle’s petition for a spot on ballot as independent candidate for governor

Pyle casts GOP’s Schmidt, Democrat Kelly as ‘two peas in a pod’

By: - August 25, 2022 4:43 pm
The Kansas secretary of state's office affirmed Thursday that state Sen. Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha secured more than the required 5,000 signatures from registered Kansas voters to qualify as an independent candidate for governor on the November ballot. A preliminary count revealed more than 6,200 valid signatures. Aug. 1, 2022 (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

The Kansas secretary of state’s office affirmed Thursday that state Sen. Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha secured more than the required 5,000 signatures from registered Kansas voters to qualify as an independent candidate for governor on the November ballot. A preliminary count revealed more than 6,200 valid signatures. Aug. 1, 2022 (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The Kansas secretary of state’s office certified Thursday that state Sen. Dennis Pyle secured more than the required 5,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify as an independent candidate for governor on the Nov. 8 election.

Potential of an insurgent campaign by Pyle, a right-wing conservative legislator from Hiawatha, generated anxiety among supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt and optimism within ranks of loyalists for Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Democrats, in fact, helped collect signatures on Pyle’s behalf.

Pyle would draw votes from Schmidt assuming no challenge of findings by county clerks reporting to Secretary of State Scott Schwab was successful in blocking his independent campaign.

“I want to use this opportunity to again thank all of my campaign volunteers and family members whose herculean effort and enthusiastic dedication to our petition drive made this day possible,” Pyle said in a statement. “I also want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving us this amazing honor and opportunity to serve our fellow Kansans and be a blessing to Him.”

Whitney Tempel, spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said Pyle’s 2,190-page nomination petition contained more than the 5,000 signatures required by law.

She said his petition documented signatures from 85 of 105 counties. Not all those counties had reported final results of the verification process, but 78 counties had adffirmed 6,234 signatures to satisfy the statute.

Pyle, who is running on a ticket with Kathleen Garrison, vowed to mount a campaign that illustrated “stark differences between our conservative beliefs and the radically liberal public policy views of our two opponents, Kelly and Schmidt.”

He said Schmidt and Kelly, who both previously served in the Kansas Senate, voted together on virtually “every liberal policy.” Schmidt was elected attorney general in 2010 after a decade in the Senate representing the Independence area. Kelly was elected governor in 2018 and served a Topeka district in the Senate since 2005.

“If either of them wins this election, Kansans are stuck with four more years of regulatory overreach and continued high taxes,” Pyle said.

Pyle said Kansans were disturbed by Kelly’s “over-the-top” mandates on COVID-19 in relation to health and education freedom. He said voters were “dumbfounded and confused” by overwhelming rejection Aug. 2 by Kansas voters of a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that could have opened a path to a ban on abortion in the state.

In addition, he said voters had reason to be “genuinely worried about the integrity and security of Kansas elections.” He said Kansans were drawn to leaders capable of resolving problems articulated by former President Donald Trump. Schwab, the state’s top elections officer, said the election process in Kansas was void of fraud.

Emma O’Brien, spokesperson for the Kansas Democratic Party, said Pyle’s inclusion on the ballot through the petition process indicated disenchantment with Schmidt. She said Schmidt was the frontrunning Republican for more than one year, but received 80% of the primary vote despite running against a GOP candidate with an arrest record.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

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.

MORE FROM AUTHOR