(NewsNation) — The narrow Kansas governor’s race has been called by NewsNation/ Decision Desk HQ in favor of Laura Kelly.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Kelly battled it out against GOP challenger Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt for her bid for a second term as the state’s leader. This is the only governorship Democrats are defending in 2022 in a state where former President Donald Trump won in 2020.
Kansas has been the unlikely site of Democratic hopes in regard to abortion rights. In August, Kansas voters overwhelmingly struck down a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have allowed the GOP-controlled state legislature to greatly restrict or ban abortion access.
While Schmidt said he respected the outcome of the vote, he still campaigned against Kelly on the issue, telling supporters she supports abortion with no restrictions. For her part, Kelly has mostly skirted the issue in her campaign, instead focusing on the economy and education.
Schmidt, a three-term Attorney General, has repeatedly tried to tie Kelly to President Joe Biden and criticized her as being too liberal for the red state. In an Op-Ed published by Fox News, Schmidt wrote that Kelly needed to be held “accountable for her harmful actions stemming from (her’s and Biden’s) shared governing philosophy.”
In the final weeks of his campaign, Schmidt pivoted his focus from education to crime, portraying Kelly as anti-police for creating a commission on policing and racial justice following protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020. Schmidt said in a campaign ad that supporting law enforcement was the most important thing for a governor to do in order to fight crime. For her part, Kelly argued she supported law enforcement during her tenure as governor by increasing funding for the prison system and Kansas Highway Patrol by 33%.
Kelly and Schmidt have been neck and neck in polling, separated by just a few percentage points through the campaign cycle and in the weeks leading up to the election.
Kansas is one of 36 states electing their top executive officials during the 2022 midterm elections. Before the election, there were 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic governors.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.