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Headlines for Friday, November 11, 2022

 

Democratic Governor Laura Kelly Wins 2nd Term

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has won a second term in Republican-leaning Kansas. Kelly defeated three-term Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and overcame Republican efforts to tie her to President Joe Biden and high inflation. Kelly highlighted the state’s improved finances and greater spending on public schools on her watch. Kelly’s support for abortion rights also likely played an important role after voters firmly rejected a Republican-backed move in August to amend the state Constitution so that lawmakers could further restrict or ban the procedure. Kelly’s victory was a bitter defeat for Republicans, who had high hopes of ousting the only Democratic governor seeking reelection this year in a a state that ex-President Donald Trump carried in 2020. (Read More.)

(– Related–) 

Why the AP Called the Kansas Governor's Race for Laura Kelly 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly ultimately had enough of a lead that her GOP challenger couldn't have caught her even if he'd won all remaining votes. That's what enabled The Associated Press to call the Kansas governor's race for Kelly on Wednesday. Kelly was the only Democratic governor running for reelection this year in a state carried by former President Donald Trump in 2020. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt had aimed to beat her by tying her to President Joe Biden and blaming the two Democrats for high inflation. Independent and moderate GOP voters lifted Kelly to victory four years ago.

(–Related–)

Abortion Rights Support Helps Kansas Governor Kelly Win 2nd Term

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) –  Democratic Governor Laura Kelly narrowly won reelection in Republican-leaning Kansas by racking up big leads in the Kansas City area and other places where abortion rights are popular. Meanwhile, her party helped an independent candidate deny the GOP nominee a few crucial votes. Kelly argued that she owed part of her victory in Tuesday's election over Republican challenger and state Attorney General Derek Schmidt to support for abortion rights. Independent candidate and state Sen. Dennis Pyle's small percentage of the vote was larger than the gap between Kelly and Schmidt. Pyle is among the Legislature's most conservative members. But an out-of-state Democratic group pushed him as the race's true conservative. 

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Mann Concedes Kansas Attorney General Race to Kobach

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) – The Kansas City Star reports that Chris Mann, the Democratic candidate for Kansas Attorney General, has now conceded the race to Republican Kris Kobach. The Associated Press called the race for Kobach on Wednesday, but Mann had refused to concede despite a deficit of more than 17,000 votes. Mann issued a statement Thursday night, saying that while a count of mail-in and provisional ballots would continue, "the outcome of the attorney general’s race will likely not change."  It was considered highly unlikely that Mann would be able to make up the vote difference.  Kobach declared victory on Tuesday night. He had indicated that his team was moving forward with preparations to take office despite the lack of a concession from Mann. 

(– Earlier Reporting –)

Kobach Wins Race for Kansas Attorney General 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Republican Kris Kobach,  a key Donald Trump counselor on immigration and supposed election fraud, has scored a political comeback by beating a newcomer to win election as Kansas attorney general. The Associated Press has called the race for Kobach. That puts the firebrand conservative back in office after losing two high-profile elections in 2018 and 2020. He defeated Democrat Chris Mann, a private defense attorney and former police officer who has never run for office before. The race was close. Kobach received 51% of the vote, and Mann received 49%.  Kobach’s victory maintains the office for Republicans and places a well-known, but polarizing, conservative as the state’s lawyer.  Kobach ran vowing to challenge federal overreach by suing Democratic President Joe Biden and his administration with regularity. Mann argued Kobach was too focused on generating headlines. He said he wanted to be attorney general to help ordinary Kansans rather than use the office for hot-button political fights. (Read More.)

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Summary of Kansas Election Results

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Incumbent Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has bested Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt and will remain in office for another four years. During the campaign, Governor Kelly touted her record on education and the economy. She said supporters also voted for the right to choose whether to have an abortion. 

Elsewhere in the major Kansas races, Kansas Republican U.S. Senator Jerry Moran was reelected. All incumbents in the Kansas Congressional delegation won reelection, including three Republicans: Tracey Mann in the 1st Congressional District, Jake LaTurner in the 2nd District and Ron Estes in District 4. The state’s only Democratic U.S Representative, Sharice Davids, defeated Republican challenger Amanda Adkins to continue representing Kansas District 3. Kansas Lawmakers redrew the district in the Kansas City metro’s Kansas suburbs to make winning more difficult for Davids to win, but she beat Adkins by 12 percentage points.

Republican Secretary of State Scott Schwab was reelected, handily defeating Democrat Jeanna Repass 59% to 38%. Republican Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt won a second term. Democratic Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Rogers lost his reelection bid to Republican Steven Johnson.  All Kansas Supreme Court justices have been retained and voters approved an amendment that mandates the election of county sheriffs. Another constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers the ability to overturn regulations from the governor or from state agencies is still deadlocked with a nearly 50/50 split. Opponents of the amendment appear to have a slight lead.

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Constitutional Amendment Question Too Close to Call

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – The vote on a Kansas constitutional amendment that would shift the balance of power in state government is still too close to call. A recount of the final tally is underway. The proposed amendment to the state constitution would give lawmakers the ability to overturn rules and regulations set by the governor’s administration. That would impact a wide range of agencies overseeing everything from the environment to child welfare. At last count, the vote to reject the proposal led by about 8,000 votes, that’s less than 1%. State Election Director Bryan Caskey says a voter may request a recount on the ballot measure. And the state would pay for it only if the final vote ends with a difference of less than one half of one percent. If the race ends up over that threshold, the person requesting the recount would have to pay for it. The result is so close that it could hinge on outstanding mailed ballots and provisional ballots yet to be counted.

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Missouri Voters Choose Schmidt for Senate, Legalize Recreational Marijuana

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt won election to the U.S. Senate defeating Democratic challenger Trudy Busch-Valentine. Schmitt defeated five other major candidates for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.  As attorney general, Schmitt gained national attention for provocative lawsuits including one filed against China in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. KCUR reports that he’s also gone after a number of aspects of President Joe Biden’s agenda, including a vaccine mandate for workers that was eventually scuttled. He bested Democratic opponent, Trudy Busch Valentine, by about 55% to 42%.  Kansas City Democrat Emanuel Cleaver was reelected to Congress for a 10th term.  KCUR reports that Missouri voters also said yes to the legalization of recreational Marijuana. Missouri residents, age 21 and older, will be legally allowed to buy and possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow as many as six flowering plants at home. Possession limits for medical marijuana card-holders will be even higher.

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Kansas Board Recommends Ending Native American Mascots

UNDATED (AP) – The Kansas State Board of Education is recommending that school districts end the use of Native America mascots and branding. The board approved a motion Thursday that asked districts with Native American mascots to retire them as soon as possible, but no longer than in three to five years. Board members stressed that it is only a recommendation and the decision will be left to local districts. They said the motion was designed to encourage local districts to discuss how the mascots negatively affect Native American students. The vote follows a recommendation from an advisory group that included representatives from the four federally recognized tribes in Kansas. (Read More.

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Missouri Marijuana Legalization Could Raise Questions for Kansas Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —A vote to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri could raise questions for teachers and school districts in Kansas.  Mark Ferguson is an attorney for the Kansas Department of Education. He says Kansas schools will have to consider whether using marijuana legally in Missouri would violate drug-free workplace policies in Kansas. “It will be a question for employers and districts and ultimately licensure," Ferguson said. Teachers can be suspended or fired if they test positive for marijuana, even in states where it is legal. That’s because public schools risk losing federal funding if they do not comply with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act.

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Former CEO and Former I-T Director of Saint Francis Ministries Indicted 

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) – The Kansas Reflector reports that the former chief executive officer and the former IT director of Saint Francis Ministries have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Robert Smith and William Whymark are accused of scheming to defraud Saint Francis Ministries of at least $4.7 million by using fake invoices. Prosecutors say Smith approved invoices submitted by Whymark that inflated the actual costs of providing information technology services. The indictment says that former CEO Smith also received a $50,000 kickback disguised as an authorized invoice, and used Saint Francis credit cards to pay for personal expenses. The two were also indicted on charges of money laundering. If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Saint Francis is the largest foster care contractor in Kansas, serving Wichita and the western two-thirds of the state. 

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Big 12 Tournament Visitor Wins Suit Against Kansas City Security Guards

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) -  A man who attended the 2019 Big 12 Basketball Tournament in Kansas City in 2019 has been awarded more than $700,000 in a civil lawsuit against a private security company for battery and other claims. KSHB reports that Rodney Rivers of Texas was attending the basketball tournament when he and a friend were detained by two private security guards from Semper Blue Professional Services. Rivers, who is Black, had just finished having breakfast in Kansas City’s Power & Light District when the guards, both white, ordered Rivers and his friend to leave the area. The lawsuit states that when Rivers objected, the security guards, told the men they were being arrested and attempted to handcuff Rivers. He resisted and the confrontation ended with him being thrown to the ground with a security guard's knee in his back. When Kansas City police officers arrived they gave Rivers a citation for criminal trespass and detained him against his will. The jury awarded Rivers $25,000 for his claim of assault and battery and also found in favor of Rivers on a claim of false imprisonment and also assessed punitive damages against the security company for $700,000.

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Another Kansas City Area “Proud Boy” Sentenced

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) -  A Johnson County, Kansas man has been sentenced to more than two months in prison for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 23-year-old Ryan Ashlock, of Gardner, is a member of the violent, white supremacist group known as the Proud Boys. United States District of Columbia Judge Timothy Kelly sentenced Ashlock to 70 days in federal prison, followed by a year of supervised release for entering and remaining in a restricted building or ground. KSHB reports that federal authorities arrested Ashlock a month after the attack and charged him with conspiracy, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, and several other charges.  Ashlock is one of four members of the Kansas City-area Proud Boys group that were also the subject of a civil lawsuit filed last December by the District of Columbia in connection to the January 6 attack. Another member of the Proud Boys gang, Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs pleaded guilty for his role in the attack. Criminal cases are pending against two other Kansas City area Proud Boys members, Christopher Kuehne and William Chrestman.

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Lawrence Residents Demand Changes to City's Homeless Policies, Johnny's Tavern Location Closes Due to Problems with Homeless Camp

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - About 100 Lawrence residents, business owners and people experiencing homelessness, attended a Tuesday night meeting of the Lawrence City Commission to discuss the city’s’ approach to worsening homelessness problems and Its management of a tent camp for the homeless in North Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the owners of Johnny’s Tavern are closing the business’s iconic North Lawrence location in an effort to pressure local officials to make changes to the city-operated homeless camp behind the bar. Johnny's owner Rick Renfro says how long the tavern remains closed depends whether the city makes changes to a homeless encampment it has been operating in an open field behind the bars parking lot.  "We’re going to stay closed for as long as it takes,” Renfro said. He told commissioners that the homeless camp along the Kansas River has grown from 40 tents when the city opened it on October 1 to about 90 tents today. Renfro has recounted numerous incidents of troublesome encounters between the campers and his employees and customers.  Renfro says he will continue to pay Johnny’s employees while the bar is closed. Johnny's Tavern dates back to 1953. After Tuesday night's meeting, commissioners said they would explore hiring more staff to monitor the homeless camp. 
 
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Catholic School Closes for the Week Due to Rampant Illness

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Christ the King Catholic School in Kansas City, Kansas, remains closed today (FRI) due to a illnesses among faculty, staff and students. Sschool officials say there was a high number of positive Influenza and respiratory virus cases reported and the school sent students and staff home on Wednesday. The school is fully disinfecting the building, which is located at 3027 54th Street. Students were sent home with special assignments to keep them active during the closure.  

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Missouri Man Charged with Olathe Bank Robberies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) -  A Harrisonville, Missouri, man has been charged in connection to two bank robbery attempts in Olathe. The U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest Wednesday afternoon of 27-year-old Lucas John Royce Spies.  He’s charged with one count of bank robbery and one count of attempted bank robbery. KSHB reports that Spies used an "intimidating" note to attempt to rob Bank Midwest on West 119th Street Monday. He is also suspected of a bank robbery about 15 minutes later and a half mile away at a U.S. Bank location, also on119th Street in Olathe. Police located the suspect a few miles away. He attempted to escape but crashed his car on U.S. 56. No injuries were reported in either bank robbery attempts, or the crash. Spies was taken into custody and the FBI is investigating the case.   

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KU to Honor Veterans Day with Rededication of Vietnam Memorial

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KU Today) - The University of Kansas will rededicate its Vietnam Memorial in a special ceremony on Veterans Day. University officials say all students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to attend a wreath-laying ceremony and rededication, of KU's Vietnam Memorial. KU Chancellor Douglas Girod will preside over the ceremony at 11 a.m.. The Vietnam Memorial, dedicated in 1986, became the first on-campus war memorial in the country to recognize those who died in the Vietnam War. Chancellor Girod will also rededicate the memorial and add a second star beside the name of Major Glenn McCubbin. The second star recognizes that McCubbin’s remains have been found and identified. The Vietnam Memorial is in Marvin Grove on the Lawrence campus, southwest of the Spencer Art Museum. 

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St. Francis Nurses Vote to Unionize

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) -  About 650 nurses at Wichita’s largest hospital will now be represented by a union. That’s about two-thirds of the registered nurses at St. Francis Hospital voting to join National Nurses United.  NNU is the largest union of registered nurses in the country, with about 175,000 members.  In a news release, the union says the nurses are organizing for safer working conditions and better pay. St. Francis is part of the Ascension Via Christi network, which includes a number of hospitals around the state. It’s the first hospital in Wichita’s private sector with unionized registered nurses. The nurses will now elect representatives to negotiate their first contract with Ascension. 

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Wichita Transgender Clinic Moving to Larger Location

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) -  A Wichita health clinic that offers gender-affirming care has moved to a new location in an effort to serve a growing number of patients. The clinic, known as M-Care, has seen its patient population swell from around 150 near the beginning of the pandemic to almost 900 now. While the clinic offers primary care for all underserved populations, 90% of those patients are transgender. Clinic owner and nurse practitioner Amanda Mogoi says the facility offers a refuge for young people going through a difficult and confusing time. “I really just found that a lot of people didn't feel safe in their primary care doctor's office,” Mogoi said. “And so we made a safe place for people.” Mogoi says M-Care is expanding with a psychologist, therapist and second nurse practitioner to start in January

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Kansas State Introduces Bilingual Teacher Training Program 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas State University is introducing a new program to create more bilingual teachers for the Dodge City School District in western Kansas. WIBW reports that the university's Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy will use a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education intended to strengthen bilingual education. K-State will partner with Dodge City Community College and Dodge City Public Schools to implement the training program for pre-K, elementary and secondary school teachers. The educators will learn to foster language and multiliteracy development and receive professional development on practices to maximize the sociocultural, linguistic, cognitive, and academic assets of students and their families.  Kansas State administrators said the project will also create a path to prepare for bilingual students of color who want to remain in the area while earning their degrees through Dodge City Community College and  K-State’s College of Education online program. 

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Man Fatally Shot by Kansas City, Kansas Police Officers

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police say officers shot and killed a man who they say shot at the officers. The department said in a statement that officers were investigating a report of a stolen call Wednesday morning when they noticed a “suspicious” car parked nearby and an unresponsive man with drug paraphernalia in the car. Police say when officers approached the car, the man started shooting and police fired back. The department's Special Operations Unit then responded and found the man dead inside the car. No officers were injured. The man's name has not been released.

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Wichita Searches for New School Superintendent

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - The Wichita school district is searching for a new superintendent. Alicia Thompson announced last week that she plans to retire at the end of this school year. Thompson has served as superintendent of the state's largest school district since 2017. School board member Sheril Logan says the board will begin public discussions Monday about the search process for finding a new leader. "The board respects her decision to retire, but she has huge shoes to fill," Logan said. Thompson graduated from Heights High School and started her career as a third-grade teacher in Wichita. She is the first Black woman to serve as superintendent of Wichita schools. During her tenure, Thompson guided the district through school closures and the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Wilson Leads No. 5 KU to 82-59 Rout of North Dakota State

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jalen Wilson had 21 points and nine rebounds, Gradey Dick added 12 points, and No. 5 Kansas tuned up for the Champions Classic next week by routing perennial Summit League contender North Dakota State 82-59. MJ Rice added eight points in his college debut for the Jayhawks, who ramped up the defensive pressure in building a 48-19 lead by halftime and coasting through the final 20 minutes. Up next for KU is a showdown with No. 7 Duke on Tuesday night in Indianapolis. Grant Nelson had 11 points and Boden Skunberg 10 to lead the Bison.

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Court Dates for Saints' Kamara, Chiefs' Lammons Delayed

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge has pushed back court dates in a felony assault case involving New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Chris Lammons and two other men accused of severely beating a man at a Las Vegas nightclub the weekend of the 2022 Pro Bowl. Kamara attorney David Chesnoff says a status conference has been set for Jan. 23 and a preliminary hearing has been set for March 1. The adjusted timeline for the case likely precludes either player from being punished by the NFL this season. Traditionally, the league has waited until the legal process plays out before fining or suspending players. Kamara also faces a $10 million civil lawsuit in New Orleans.

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These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

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