In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly Tests if Any Politics Is Still Local
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly waves to a crowd of high school students, as she campaigns for an open seat for a state House seat, during an election night rally October 18, 2006 in Topeka, Kansas. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty)
Laura Kelly’s campaign for governor focused on her outsider status. But as she ran for Senate last year in a state where local politics are very important – and where most of her political peers are women of color – she tried to bring national issues into the conversation.
Kelly, who campaigned early in the election season about the state of the nation and the need to take on the growing national deficit, also made her second run for elected office about education and public safety.
But, on Tuesday night, Kelly will be returning to the issue of race as she faces a tough challenge from a white woman from a Kansas City suburb in a state where the demographics of politics are shifting. With just days to go, two candidates for the U.S. Senate are being forced to campaign on social issues that include abortion.
In Kansas, “it’s not a good signal for us and it’s not good for the country, so I think sometimes you have to compromise in order to get things done,” said Kelly, the only woman in the race.
Kelly’s campaign was able to use the power of incumbency and the fact that her father is a long-time member of the Senate, to paint her opponent, Republican Julie Adams, as out of touch with voters.
“I think I’m out of touch with a lot of people,” said Kelly. “Julie Adams has a record that’s not based on what Kansas voters want.”
Kelly is running against Adams because she will be on the ballot as the state’s lieutenant governor, even though her Senate campaign is also focused on winning a seat in the House of Representatives.