Top Senate Republican, Majority Leader Larry Alley, backs Derek Schmidt in governor's race
Kansas Senate Majority Leader Larry Alley announced Tuesday he would back Attorney General Derek Schmidt in the Republican gubernatorial primary, giving Schmidt the support of leaders in both chambers of the state Legislature.
Alley, who was elected in May to permanently fill the leadership post vacated by Sen. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, after his arrest for driving under the influence, is the latest legislator to back Schmidt as the governor's race emerges from a brief summertime hibernation.
In a statement, Alley criticized Gov. Laura Kelly's spree of vetoing bills pushed by Republican legislators, saying she used her veto pen more than any other governor in the last 17 years and arguing "if that’s not a sign that she’s not the right fit to lead our state, I’m not sure what is."
"We need a governor who will work with our state’s legislature to get things done for Kansans," Alley said. "Derek Schmidt is the perfect choice for the job because he is a trusted conservative leader who has a proven track record."
While the partisan primary in the governor's race is still over a year away, the entrance of two heavyweight candidates in Schmidt and former Gov. Jeff Colyer has prompted a flurry of activity early.
Both men have ramped up their campaigns and fundraising operations, while attempting to corner the market on endorsements from their GOP brethren.
Colyer entered the race with a splash, rolling out the backing of U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and also later announced the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann, who served as his lieutenant governor from 2017-18.
Schmidt has hit back with a suite of endorsements of his own, including House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe. Other high-profile backers include former U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and Pat Roberts, who announced their support last month.