Kansas House speaker backs Derek Schmidt in bid for governor

    House Speaker Ron Ryckman, right, endorsed Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, left, in the 2022 governor's race. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

    TOPEKA — Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt secured a noteworthy endorsement in his campaign for Kansas governor Tuesday from House Speaker Ron Ryckman, ending speculation the Olathe Republican may run himself.

    In a video released Tuesday, Ryckman touted Schmidt as a “reliable conservative voice” and leader. He touted Schmidt’s work with the Legislature on the state’s emergency management laws, school funding lawsuits, and a constitutional amendment to allow abortion restrictions.

    Ryckman also noted Gov. Laura Kelly’s decision to veto several bills. He said Schmidt would be the best candidate to strip her “veto pen.”

    “Derek has been a reliable conservative voice who listens and gets things done in state government and who has the values and the backbone to stand up for what’s right,” Ryckman said. “It’s time to turn the page on the disappointments of the past four years and for Republicans to move forward together.”

    Schmidt’s opponent in the Republican primary is former Gov. Jeff Colyer, who received the backing of U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann. The Kansas attorney general has the backing of several state legislators and Steve Baccus, Colyer’s former campaign manager.

    Colyer lost to former Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the GOP primary race for governor in 2018. Kelly defeated Kobach and independent candidate Greg Orman in the general election.

    The endorsement confirms Ryckman will not enter the governor’s race, a rumored possibility last year.

    “I’m committed to electing a Republican governor in 2022 as speaker of the House for the past five years,” Ryckman said. “I’ve worked closely with all the major candidates, and to me, the best choice is clear.”