Much of the race seemed to turn on how many independent and moderate GOP voters stayed with Kelly after lifting her to victory four years ago. In that race, Kelly faced then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a nationally known hardline provocateur on immigration and voter ID issues.
Kansas has had strong anti-abortion majorities in its Legislature for 30 years, but voters have regularly elected Democratic governors. The party was energized in August by a statewide vote decisively rejecting a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have cleared the way for tighter restrictions on abortion or a ban of the procedure.
The first test of voter sentiment after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade came in Kansas, with heavy turnout in a primary that typically favors Republicans but was a major victory for abortion rights advocates.
Kelly opposed the proposed amendment, which would have added language stating that it does not grant the right to abortion, saying changing the state constitution would “throw the state back into the Dark Ages.”
Supporting the measure, Schmidt told the Catholic television network EWTN before the election that “there’s still room for progress” in decreasing abortions, without spelling out what he would sign as governor.