Former Sen. Bob Dole, the 1996 GOP presidential nominee, and Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsBob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Kan.) on Tuesday endorsed Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary.
The endorsements from Dole, who represented Kansas in the House and Senate for 35 years, and Roberts mark an early victory for Schmidt, who is running for the GOP nomination against former Gov. Jeff Colyer.
“Like myself, Attorney General Derek Schmidt has made it his goal to put the needs of Kansans first and to make a positive difference for our state. He's a strong Republican, and he has what it takes to win and to lead with common sense and decency,” Dole said in a statement. “I'm proud to stand with my good friend Pat Roberts and endorse Derek Schmidt for Governor.”
“In the 25 years I've known Derek Schmidt, I've watched and admired his strong and steady leadership. Derek understands rural America and Kansas agriculture. He is an experienced and trusted leader, and is a proven winner,” added Roberts.
Schmidt and Colyer are running for the chance to unseat Gov. Laura Kelly (D), who won her first term in 2018 in a hotly contested race against former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).
Republicans are chomping at the bit to oust her in the 2022 midterms, arguing her 2018 win was a fluke victory against a polarizing opponent who had based his campaign around hardline stances on immigration and voter fraud.
Both Schmidt and Colyer have cast themselves as reliable conservatives who have the ability to win statewide office in the deep red state. Kelly is expected to face an uphill climb against either of them, particularly after former President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE trounced President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE in Kansas by 15 points last year and now-Sen. Robert Marshall (R) bested state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D) in a race for an open Senate seat by more than 11 points.
Schmidt touted the endorsements, saying he was “deeply honored” by their support.
“Kansans have been blessed with so many years of honorable, effective and distinguished public service from these two Republican icons, and as one who has looked up to them since I was young, I couldn’t be more proud or humbled to earn their faith and support,” Schmidt said.
Colyer’s campaign in response to the announcement touted its own endorsements from Marshall and Rep. Tracey Mann (R).
"We look forward to a campaign based on our principled conservative solutions for the future contrasted with Derek Schmidt's history of blowing with the political winds," said Colton Gibson, Colyer's campaign manager.