Ex-Kansas governor launches bid; GOP rivals test key themes

Kansas Jeff Colyer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer on Monday formally launched his campaign to reclaim the office in 2022, portraying himself as the true conservative in the Republican primary as his main GOP rival questioned his electability.

Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt highlighted key campaign themes with the August 2022 primary still more than 15 months away. Colyer played to some conservatives’ fears that Schmidt really is a moderate.

Schmidt questioned whether Colyer can unseat Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. She defeated then-Secretary of State and polarizing conservative Kris Kobach in 2018 after Colyer as governor narrowly lost the GOP primary to Kobach.

Colyer said lessons from his 2018 race prompted him to start his latest bid early. His launch in Topeka featured U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, who endorsed Colyer. The ex-governor endorsed Marshall last year.

“It’s important that Republicans unite behind the one candidate who can not only win in November but who will actually enact conservative policies,” Colyer said.

Colyer was GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s lieutenant governor for seven years before Brownback resigned in early 2018 for an ambassador’s post, elevating Colyer to governor.

Schmidt said in a statement: “The stakes are too high to risk losing again in 2022.”