Democratic candidates running for Kansas governor meet for first debate in Wichita

Capitol Bureau

The first official Kansas Democratic gubernatorial debate took place Friday night in Wichita. 

The debate was hosted by the 4th district Democrats. 

State Sen. Laura Kelly, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, and former Secretary of Agriculture Josh Svaty spent an hour and a half debating a wide range of topics from improving the education system, to holding the Department For Children and Families more accountable. 

“We need an independent state auditor looking into these agencies constantly,” said Svaty. 

And while the candidates all agreed on expanding Medicaid and supported the legalization of medical marijuana, some candidates questioned other’s stances on abortion. 

“The two of us have always been pro-choice, I can’t say that about the others,” Carl Brewer said about his ticket. “You stick with it all the way and there is no deviation or don’t stand up and say that you are. Just tell the truth.”

Svaty faced pushed back after he said he would veto any new bills restricting abortion. When Svaty was a member in the Kansas House, he had an anti-abortion voting record. 

“This state of Kansas should not be spending our time passing blatantly unconstitutional legislation like the font bill or the dismemberment bill, that ties up our courts, and spends unnecessary tax dollars” explained Svaty.

Kelly said Svaty’s veto promise doesn’t go far enough. 

“To just say ‘I will veto any more’ is not enough,” said Kelly. “We need to be proactive on this to get women their rights back.”

“I was looking forward to this because this was the first chance to see all three of them,” said Wichita resident Vernette Chance.

Chance said after watching the debate, she’s still undecided who she’ll vote for in the August primary.

“I’m glad it’s hard because sometimes we hardly have anyone to run and this time we have three people,”she said. 

This is the first Democratic primary the state has had in about 20 years. The primary takes place August 7th.

A Republican gubernatorial debate is scheduled next month in Johnson County.

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