Patrick Schmidt announces congressional run against LaTurner

Jordan Meier

PITTSBURG, Kan. — With the 2022 midterm elections just over a year away, congressional hopefuls are creeping out of the woodwork and stepping up to challenge incumbents, and southeast Kansas is no different.  

This week, Johnson County native Patrick Schmidt announced he would be running for Kansas’ District 2 seat, becoming the first Democrat to announce their intentions to challenge freshman GOP Congressman Jake LaTurner.  

Schmidt, 30, is a former U.S. Navy Intelligence officer who moved back to Kansas earlier this year after spending four years serving as a Naval officer in Washington DC, according to his LinkedIn profile.  

In June of this year, he became a Navy reservist and moved back to the state, settling in Topeka. Schmidt is a native of Johnson County, but reportedly has ties to southeast Kansas. 

Schmidt’s campaign finance director, Jon Ediger, told the Associated Press that five generations of Schmidt’s family have lived and worked in Pittsburg. Later in an interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal, Schmidt said his family from southeast Kansas helped “raise him.”  

"For the last six generations, my family has been mining coal, harvesting fields and teaching school in this district," Schmidt said in the article. "Those are the people that raised me, those are the values I represent and those are the people I want to represent in Congress." 

The Schmidt campaign could not be reached for further comment on the matter by press time.  

Schmidt has wasted no time in outlining his priorities, which include affordable healthcare and education, while also expressing his concerns with his opponent's actions during his first term.  

"I’m worried about our country and our state,” Schmidt reportedly said. “Instead of investing in our future and rebuilding our economy, we are divided by partisan bickering. During my service on the USS Ronald Reagan, I saw firsthand the impact the United States makes in the world when we are strong and united.  After the pandemic, we need to build a stronger economy if we want all Kansans to be able to succeed.” 

LaTurner’s campaign has also already taken jabs at Schmidt, calling into question his understanding of what Kansans need when he hasn’t lived here in years.  

Braden Dreiling, a spokesman for LaTurner’s campaign said in a statement to the Morning Sun, “When it comes to understanding the values of Southeast Kansans, the differences could not be more stark. Rep. LaTurner didn’t just visit here, he was born and raised here and truly understands the people and the issues facing Southeast Kansans. Mr. Schmidt was raised in Overland Park and left for college in Boston immediately after high school. Until he decided to run for Congress, he never lived a day in his life in the district he hopes to represent.” 

In response to the LaTurner campaign's comments, Schmidt told the Topeka Capital-Journal that he found the attack "preposterous" and "perplexing," arguing he was off serving his country and served alongside other Kansas natives in the Navy who were temporarily away from their home state. 

"The idea of denigrating other Kansans' service ... is pretty offensive to me," Schmidt said in the article. 

LaTurner, a Galena native, was elected in 2020, beating out Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla in all but two of the 25 counties in District 2 and carrying 55 percent of the vote. In southeast Kansas, his margin of victory was much larger, carrying 58 percent of the votes in Crawford County and 73 percent in both Bourbon and Cherokee counties. 

LaTurner was formerly the Kansas state Treasurer and beat out incumbent Steve Watkins in the Republican primary after Watkins' candidacy was tainted by a voter fraud charge.