The Kansas gubernatorial election saw Democrat Laura Kelly defeat Republican Kris Kobach, a sharp break from Kansas' two previous Republican governors.

Before and After: Trojans react to the Midterm Elections

November 9, 2018

With the Midterm Elections over, voting-age Trojans had a lot to say about the “referendum on Donald Trump,” both before and after the results of the election became clear.

Pre-election reactions

Across the board, Trojans who were interviewed said they dislike Kris Kobach, former Kansas Secretary of State under Sam Brownback.

Carson Klingerman, senior, says “I really didn’t want to vote for him after that, because I really don’t think Brownback did a really great job at all, and honestly they probably swayed me more towards Greg Orman or Laura Kelly. Really anyone just not Kobach. ”

Jack Mickelsen, senior, also said he dislikes some of Kobach’s key issues.

“I want to help put people in office that are pro-medical marijuana, pro-LGBT, and mostly pro-gun,” he says.

Kris Kobach has taken an anti-LGBT stance, claiming in July 2015 that adoption by gay couples is “certainly not good for the kids.”

As first-time voters, both Klingerman and Mickelesen were motivated by a number of keys issues that were driving them to the polls.

“I think the issue of the Second Amendment [and] making sure that everyone is represented, the equal amount,” Klingerman says.

“I voted for people that I felt weren’t going to just add fuel to that fire, and that seemed like they both wanted to and knew how to fix the issues we face,” Mickelsen says.

Going in, Klingerman and Mickelsen said they felt the most important race was the battle for the governor.

“Definitely the governor’s election. It’ll be interesting to see who voters pick to be our next governor after what Brownback’s administration has done here for the past 8 years,” Mickelsen says.

“Probably the governor. I just don’t want another Brownback, so I just want to stop that,” Klingerman says.

The 2018 Midterm elections featured substantially more campaign advertisements and promotions than any other midterm election in recent history. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than $5.2 billion was spent on campaigns throughout the nation, breaking the previous record of $4.4 billion.

This new increase in advertisements caught the eyes of Mickelsen and Klingerman as well.

“I wasn’t planning on voting for Steve Watkins but his ads definitely made that even more clear to me. He went to West Point, which has an honor code. It states that they won’t lie or tolerate those that do. He had graduated from West Point by the time he lied for his campaign, but I think it still says a lot about him as a person. His ads were low blows that have nothing to do with Paul Davis as a person,” Mickelsen says.

“The only [advertisements I noticed] were the Kobach ads, when they talk about him wanting to do a lot of what Brownback did, I really didn’t want to vote for him after that, because I really don’t think Brownback did a really great job at all,” Klingerman says.


Post-election reactions


Now, with the elections over and results counted, Kansas has flipped its more conservative-leaning government to a more liberal-leaning one.

Laura Kelly, Democratic candidate for governor, won with 47.79% of votes, while Kris Kobach, Republican candidate for governor, lost with only 43.3% of votes.

In KS-House District 1, where Topeka is located, Democrat Paul Davis narrowly lost (by a 1.72% margin) against Republican Steve Watkins.

However, in KS-House District 3, where populous Johnson County is located, Democrat, Native American, and LGBT Sharice Davis won with 53.33% of votes, compared to Kevin Yoder’s 44.19%.

Both Klingerman and Mickelsen say they aren’t too surprised about the results of the election.

“I wasn’t surprised that Laura Kelly won. I thought it would be a closer race, or at least closer than it was. I was disappointed but not surprised to see Steve Watkins win. I figured it wouldn’t be as drastic as it was. I thought Paul Davis had it. It’s disappointing to see that many people were able to look past Steve Watkins’ past; his record, his history. But I’m not surprised that people did that and they just voted for the party and not for the person I think,” Mickelsen says.

“I was surprised by how Steve Watkins was losing in the beginning, and then the result that he won. Definitely not surprised to see Laura Kelly win, I kind of figured she was going to win; she’s a great candidate,” Klingerman says.

Laura Kelly is preparing to strike down several Brownback-era executive orders, including one she told reporters on Thursday that will reinstate protections for LGTBQ state employees.

Kelly’s political agenda matches what Mickelsen and Klingerman expect of the Democrat, yet some questions still remain for them about what she can get done.

“I think we’ll definitely see a more liberal stance on a lot of things. So I think stuff like that [the reinstatement of protections for LGTBQ state employees] we will see a lot more liberal policies implemented, but I don’t know to what extent that will affect us, on like a day-to-day basis,” Mickelsen says.

“I think some things she’ll be able to get done and some things will be stagnant. I think a lot of things will stay the same though,” Klingerman says.



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