Kansas Attorney General election, 2022

The 2022 Kansas attorney general election took place against a backdrop of increased national attention on the role of state attorneys general. With abortion rights, voting rights, and other contentious issues coming before state courts, there was heightened focus on who would serve as Kansas’ top legal officer.

The election was open seat, as two-term Republican incumbent Derek Schmidt opted to run for governor rather than seek re-election. This created an opportunity for both parties to contest an office that had been in GOP hands since 2010.

Republican Primary

Candidates

The Republican primary featured a competitive three-way race between:

  • Kris Kobach: Former Kansas Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial nominee. Known for his staunch conservative views on immigration and voter fraud.
  • Kellie Warren: Attorney who had served under former Attorney General Phill Kline. Positioned herself as a conservative alternative to Kobach.
  • Tony Mattivi: Retired FBI agent who emphasized his law enforcement background. Ran as an establishment-friendly moderate.

Results

In the August 2 primary, Kobach prevailed with 42% of the vote, followed by Warren at 38% and Mattivi at 20%. Kobach’s name recognition and loyal base from prior statewide runs were key factors in his victory.

Democratic Primary

Candidates

The sole Democratic candidate was Chris Mann, a former police officer and prosecutor from the Kansas City area. Mann ran unopposed in the primary.

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Results

With no primary opponent, Mann automatically advanced as the Democratic nominee. He hoped to appeal to moderates and independents in the general election.

General Election Campaign

Candidates and Positions

Kris Kobach (R)

Kobach emphasized illegal immigration, election integrity, and reducing crime as signature issues. He promised to aggressively pursue voter fraud cases and lawsuits against the Biden administration. His stances aligned with Trump-style conservatism.

Chris Mann (D)

Mann campaigned on protecting abortion rights, combating political corruption, and opposing Kobach’s past voter suppression efforts. He portrayed himself as a law enforcement veteran focused on the interests of everyday Kansans.

Endorsements

For Kobach

  • Former President Donald Trump
  • U.S. Senator Ted Cruz
  • Kansas Republican Party

For Mann

  • Kansas Governor Laura Kelly
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Kansas Coalition for Life

Polling

Surveys showed a tight race, with most polls putting Kobach ahead by low single-digit margins. The presence of an independent candidate who had dropped out added uncertainty.

Campaign Finance

Kobach held a significant fundraising edge, raising $1.9 million to Mann’s $1.1 million as of late October. Outside Republican groups also spent over $3 million supporting Kobach.

General Election Results

Vote Totals

Kobach defeated Mann by a margin of 50.8% to 49.2%, a difference of around 16,000 votes out of nearly 1 million cast.

Analysis

Kobach managed to overcome his reputation for extreme conservatism and controversy, aided by dominant Republican turnout in midterm elections. Mann performed broadly on par with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, but fell just short of an upset.

Future Implications

Policy Direction

As attorney general, Kobach will likely pursue an aggressive conservative agenda on hot-button issues like abortion, guns, and immigration. He has the power to shape how Kansas approaches legal conflicts with the federal government.

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Political Landscape

Kobach’s victory reflects the rightward tilt of the state, while Mann’s close finish shows Democrats remain competitive under the right conditions. The results will factor into the positioning of both parties looking ahead to the 2024 elections.

Conclusion

The Kobach vs. Mann matchup provided voters with a clear ideological choice for the direction of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. Kobach’s win keeps the seat in Republican hands, while offering a preview of the identity crisis the state GOP will continue grappling with between establishment conservatism and Trumpian populism. With abortion rights and other contentious topics on the legal docket, Kobach’s tenure will have major ramifications in the coming years.

FAQs

What was Kris Kobach’s margin of victory?

Kobach defeated Mann by 1.6 percentage points, 50.8% to 49.2%.

Who did Kris Kobach previously lose to in a statewide election?

In 2018, Kobach was the Republican nominee for governor but lost to Democrat Laura Kelly.

What office did Kris Kobach previously hold?

Kobach served as Kansas Secretary of State from 2011 to 2019.

Who did Chris Mann previously work for?

Mann worked as a police officer and prosecutor in the Kansas City, Kansas area.

Who was the previous Kansas attorney general?

The incumbent was Republican Derek Schmidt, who was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018.

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