Current Report Articles
President's Perspective – Kansans Turn Out for the Primary Election

I Voted (Aug. 5, 2022) – In Kansas, the primary elections have ended, the unofficial results have been counted, and now the process of finalizing the vote counts begins as the state looks toward the general elections in November. This process includes each county across the state certifying the election results before the statewide canvassing group meets to confirm the results in the coming weeks.

While most Kansans hope to have a good read of the message the public is sending to elected officials following any vote, those messages are often complex. In this instance, Kansas legislators voted back in January 2021 to add to the primary election a special question regarding a change in the constitution putting policies around abortion in the state squarely in the jurisdiction of the legislature rather than in the courts.

The Kansas Legislature couldn't have known at the time they voted to place the question before Kansas voters that the United States Supreme Court would rule on the matter ahead of Tuesday's primary elections. While there is sure to be much speculation in the days ahead on the tactics and how that may have led to the defeat of the proposed constitutional change, the legislative discussions will likely continue into the 2023 session on the topic and are likely to have continued impact on the elections throughout the rest of this cycle. But Kansas saw tremendous national attention and historic spending on advertising as Kansas held the first post-federal ruling vote on the issue.

Kansans also made their voices heard on several state legislative races. Between the previously announced legislative departures from the state legislature and the outcomes of this week's elections, primary voters appear to favor new candidates, some likely more conservative, to send to the statehouse in Topeka. Incumbents who lost their primary election include Rep. Mark Samsel (R-Wellsville), Rep. Brad Ralph (R-Dodge City), Rep. John Wheeler Jr (R-Garden City), Rep. John Barker (R-Abilene) and Rep. Cheryl Helmer (R-Mulvane). Additionally, in a closely watched race featuring two incumbents following the re-districting process, House District 118 saw Tatum Lee (R-Ness City) defeated by fellow-incumbent Jim Minnix (R-Scott City).

In statewide races, Derek Schmidt and Katie Sawyer defeated Arlyn Briggs and Lance Berland. They will go on to the general election running against incumbent Governor Laura Kelly and David Toland. This week, that race also saw the likely entry of Independent candidate state Senator Dennis Pyle and his running mate Kathleen Garrison. In the Kansas Secretary of State race, incumbent Scott Schwab beat Republican challenger Mike Brown and will go on to face Jeanna Repass in the general election. For the Kansas Attorney General race, a tough three-way Republican primary saw former Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach beat state Senator Kellie Warren, as well as Prosecutor Tony Mattivi and will now go up against Chris Mann in the general election. State Treasurer candidates on the Republican ticket included state Representative Steven Johnson who ran against state Senator Caryn Tyson to take on sitting incumbent and former Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers. That race is still within a close margin as votes continue to come in from mail-in ballots. For an entire list of unofficial election results and to view the county-by-county results, visit SOS unofficial results.

In Kansas, with so many eyes on our state, the turnout has been quite historic. The Kansas Secretary of State's office, released estimates suggesting approximately 36 percent of Kansas voters would likely participate in the 2022 primary elections. Some counties have now reported that number above the 50 percent mark! That's good news for our civic process, and it will be interesting to see how many of those voters continue to stay engaged as we head toward November. As a reminder, KHA has resources available for use at your hospital to highlight the importance of voter engagement and help guide conversations with those candidates running for office online at WeCareWeVote. We look forward to continuing discussions with the newly elected officials and encourage you to get to know those folks running for office!
--Chad Austin