Election 2022: Abortion rights support helps Kansas Gov. Kelly win 2nd term

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks to supporters at a watch party after calling it a night with the...
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks to supporters at a watch party after calling it a night with the race too close to call, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, in Topeka, Kan. Kelly was facing Republican challenger and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(John Hanna | AP)
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 6:07 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan., (AP) - Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly narrowly won reelection in Republican-leaning Kansas by racking up big leads in the Kansas City area and other places where abortion rights are popular.

Meanwhile, her party helped an independent candidate deny the GOP nominee a few crucial votes. Kelly argued that she owed part of her victory in Tuesday’s election over Republican challenger and state Attorney General Derek Schmidt to support for abortion rights.

Independent candidate and state Sen. Dennis Pyle’s small percentage of the vote was larger than the gap between Kelly and Schmidt. Pyle is among the Legislature’s most conservative members. But an out-of-state Democratic group pushed him as the race’s true conservative.

AP called the race early Wednesday afternoon after Kelly ultimately had enough of a lead that her GOP challenger couldn’t have caught her even if he’d won all remaining votes.

Kelly was the only Democratic governor running for reelection this year in a state carried by former President Trump in 2020. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt had aimed to beat her by tying her to President Joe Biden and blaming the two Democrats for high inflation. Independent and moderate GOP voters lifted Kelly to victory four years ago.