Kansas independent gubernatorial candidate expresses frustration with ballot petition process

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TOPEKA — State Sen. Dennis Pyle expressed frustration Wednesday at the pace of county and state election officials reviewing the thousands of signatures submitted with his petition to be included in the November ballot as a candidate. independent as governor.

Pyle, a conservative lawmaker and farmer from Hiawatha, walked away from the Republican Party to launch his dark horse candidacy as an alternative to Democrat Laura Kelly, Republican Derek Schmidt and Libertarian Seth Cordell.

He said the secretary of state’s office certified independent gubernatorial candidate Greg Orman’s 2018 petition within 11 days of receiving Orman’s stack of signatures from people who said they were registered voters. in Kansas. Pyle submitted his petition documentation on Aug. 1, but was told by the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday that Kansas law did not require the process to be completed in accordance with Orman’s experience.

“I certainly hope we don’t see the secretary of state applying a double standard,” Pyle said. “We’ve already seen the questionable actions taken by the GOP establishment leadership to remove names from the petition. I hope we don’t see insider collaboration by the Secretary of State’s office based on oaths of loyalty to the party.

Fake conservative?

In early August, the Republican Party of Kansas instructed voters via text message how to remove their name from Pyle’s petition. The Kansas GOP argument was that Pyle would draw enough votes from Attorney General Schmidt’s GOP to allow Governor Kelly to win the November election.

Additionally, the Kansas GOP reminded party officials of a loyalty oath requiring them to endorse Republican candidates exclusively.

Pyle, who argues that Schmidt proved insufficiently conservative, submitted 8,900 signatures. He would need 5,000 verified signatures of registered voters to appear on the statewide ballot. Democratic Party activists helped collect signatures for Pyle, who has a far-right pedigree in the Kansas Legislature.

A spokesperson for Schmidt’s campaign called Pyle a “false conservative” and a “conceited candidate.”

Bryan Caskey, chief election officer for Secretary of State Scott Schwab, emailed Pyle saying his petition was still under consideration. Pages containing signatures from Kansans were submitted to county election officials in a bid to confirm whether the signers were registered voters, he said.

“Kansas law does not require an independent petition to be verified by today,” Caskey said.

In Orman’s case, he submitted his stack of petition signatures on August 6, 2018. The Secretary of State declared his petition sufficient on August 17. A formal objection was filed on August 20. The State Objections Committee overruled that objection on August 23 to affirm Orman’s place on the ballot.

Pyle said he was angered that his petition was put on hold despite submitting his 2022 list of names five days before Orman in 2018.

“It’s very clear they’re not following the same law enforcement,” Pyle said.

A lengthy review by state and county officials or the filing of a separate challenge to Pyle’s petition could delay an official decision to such an extent that he may not be eligible for the governor’s debate on September 10. at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. Orman has completed the process to participate in the 2018 debate with Kelly and GOP candidate Kris Kobach.

GOP oriented sonar

Meanwhile, a poll on the Kansas gubernatorial race by Georgian company Battleground Connect indicated that Schmidt would receive 47.9% to Kelly’s 45.4% and Pyle’s 2.1% if the vote took place during the period. election from August 8 to 10. The GOP-oriented pollster said the snapshot of opinion among 1,074 likely Kansas general election voters had a 3% margin of error. In addition, the survey sets the proportion of undecided at 4.6%.

The polling firm’s clients include the Kansas Republican Party, Kansas Club for Growth, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansans for Life, Kansas Rifle Association, Republican National Committee as well as U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, Senator American Roger Marshall, US Representative. Jake LaTurner, U.S. Representative Ron Estes, and Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, all Republicans. Additionally, the company has had a relationship with former U.S. Representatives Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder, who are also Republicans.

The election survey was sponsored by the nonprofit political organization John Brown Freedom Fund created by Pat Leopold, who worked with Jenkins in Washington, D.C., until she left Congress in 2019. Jenkins and Leopold also formed LJ Strategies, a political consulting firm.

“For those hoping that Dennis Pyle might prove useful to Governor Kelly’s campaign, the answer seems to be an emphatic no,” said Leopold, spokesperson for the Brown Freedom Fund. “Not only is Kelly well below 50%, the danger zone for any starter, but despite spending millions more than Derek Schmidt, she is already losing.”

In an interview, Pyle said the details of the investigation would have to be reviewed to determine if it was loaded with political bias.

“Lynn Jenkins and Derek Schmidt – an obvious blow to Pyle,” said Pyle, who ran unsuccessfully against Jenkins in the 2010 Republican primary for the US House. “He’s scared of me, and he should be.”

The survey commissioned by Leopold showed that 53.3% of potential Kansas voters had a very or somewhat favorable opinion of Kelly. The same question in Schmidt’s terms revealed that 49.3% had a very or somewhat favorable opinion of him.

Additionally, the survey suggested that President Joe Biden, who lost Kansas to former President Donald Trump in 2020, was viewed as somewhat or very unfavorably by 56.2% of Kansas respondents.

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