Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly doubles fundraising by Derek Schmidt in latest finance reports

Chris Mann doubles Kris Kobach in contributions for attorney general race

By: - November 1, 2022 4:55 pm

Kansas campaign finance reports showing campaign contributions between July to October depict funding differences between Republican and Democratic candidates across the state. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly’s campaign touted more than $3.1 million in fundraising in the final months before the November election, saying most of these contributions came from individuals.

The Democratic incumbent nearly doubled the money raised by her Republican rival, Derek Schmidt, who reported $1.7 million in contributions. Independent candidate Dennis Pyle, a state senator from Hiawatha, had $54,605 in contributions.

Monday was the deadline for candidates for public office in Kansas to file campaign finance reports for a period covering July 22 to Oct. 27.

Kelly’s campaign said the total amount of money it raised for this election cycle exceeds $7.7 million, calling it a new record for gubernatorial candidates in Kansas.

“Governor Kelly’s message is resonating with Kansans across the state who know that she is the proven, steady leader who is getting things done for Kansans,” campaign manager Shelbi Dantic said in a news release.

Kelly’s campaign spent $3,775,027.26 in the most recent reporting period. Schmidt’s campaign spent $2,549,218.07.

The Kansas Democratic Party said the governor’s fundraising success was a result of widespread support for Kelly. 

“It turns out that bringing a bunch of national politicians to campaign did nothing to help Derek Schmidt’s weak fundraising and failing campaign for governor,” said Emma O’Brien, KDP spokeswoman. “Meanwhile, Governor Kelly has built a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and Independents supporting her for reelection, and it shows in the latest report.”

Schmidt’s campaign manager, C.J. Grover, said Democrats’ fundraising was a product of out-of-state influences that didn’t reflect Kansas’ political landscape. Celebrity Barbra Streisand contributed $1,000 to Kelly’s campaign, and Melinda Gates donated $4,000. 

Grover said Schmidt was focused on in-state issues, unlike Kelly, though Schmidt has campaigned with politicians from other states, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“In every election in Kansas, liberal coastal elites pour money into Democrat campaigns, but no amount of money can overcome the fact that the Kelly-Biden agenda has made daily life in Kansas less affordable, hurt so many of our kids, and made our communities less safe,” Grover said in a statement. “We are feeling very strong going into Election Day, and Derek Schmidt will win because he has focused on what Kansans care about, not on the priorities of coastal liberal donors.”

The final round of campaign finance reports were released a week before Election Day, with advanced voting already underway. The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office said Tuesday that 151,111 advanced ballots had been mailed and 104,960 people had voted in person.

In the attorney general race, Democratic candidate Chris Mann outstripped GOP opponent Kris Kobach in funding. Kobach raised $465,000 in contributions and receipts, and Mann raised nearly twice that amount, listing $952,000 in contributions and receipts.

“This massive fundraising gap demonstrates just how eager Kansans are to elect public servant Chris Mann, and how tired they are of extremist politicians like Kris Kobach,” said KDP chairwoman Vicki Hiatt. 

Despite this discrepancy in funding, the race is considered a tossup.

The state treasurer race was closer in terms of fundraising. Republican state Rep. Steven Johnson raised $250,352.95 and Democratic incumbent Lynn Rogers raised $227,809.67.

In the insurance commissioner race, Democrat Kiel Corkran didn’t submit a finance report. Republican Vicki Schmidt raised around $104,260.

In the secretary of state race, Republican Scott Schwab raised $105,330 for his campaign. Democrat Jeanna Repass didn’t file her report.

Funding for state House races included pushes by the Kansas Republican House Campaign Committee. The committee reported that it raised $435,160 between July 22 to Oct. 27.

The committee’s efforts to raise money included classifying current House Republicans in a tiered system, with top donors achieving “Leadership Circle” status by donating $5,000.

A campaign email sent by House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins identified “Leadership Circle” donors as Hawkins, Rep. Brenda Landwehr and Rep. Susan Humphries, all of Wichita; Rep. Les Mason, of McPherson; and Rep. Barb Wasinger, of Hays.

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rachel Mipro has covered state government in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She and her fellow team of journalists were 2022 Goldsmith Prize Semi-Finalists for their work featuring the rise of the KKK in northern Louisiana, following racially-motivated shootings in 1960. With her move to the Midwest, Rachel is now turning her focus toward issues within Kansas public policies.

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