Kansas — a deeply Republican state that became the darling of national liberals by rejecting a potential abortion ban in August — heads into the Nov. 8 election for governor with a fairly stark choice.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly comes asking for reelection arguing that she led the state out of a stubborn budget crisis that followed the tax cuts and government service rollbacks powered through by her Republican predecessors, Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer.

She casts herself as a middle-of-the-road moderate so business-friendly and forward-looking that she drew Panasonic’s $4 billion electric vehicle battery plant to the state.

Her chief challenger, Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, paints her as a liberal in step with President Joe Biden and blames inflation on their policies. He insists Kelly should have done more to make life for Kansans more affordable amid rising prices.

Libertarian Seth Cordell and independent candidate Dennis Pyle, a conservative state senator, are also running for governor. But polling suggests it’s a tight race between Kelly and Schmidt.

The two differ on the economy, education and abortion. They have different visions for the future of Kansas.

Here’s how the two leading candidates stand on key issues:







Republican Derek Schmidt speaks to a crowd at a Kansas Chamber of Commerce candidate forum.
Dylan Lysen / Kansas News Service Republican Derek Schmidt said he will quickly sign legislation that bans transgender girls from girls sports.


Public safety



Health care


Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks to a crowd during a debate at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson.
Dylan Lysen / Kansas News Service Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly each year of her tenure has called for expanding Medicaid in Kansas to provide health insurance to more low-income residents. She said she will continue to push for expansion if she is reelected.




Election day is Nov. 8.