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Headlines for Wednesday, November 9, 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.)


Why 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.

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. 


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.


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.)

(– AP Version –)

GOP’s Kobach Wins Kansas AG’s Race, Revives Political Career

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach has won the Kansas attorney general’s race after two big losses tied to his national reputation as an immigration and election law provocateur. Kobach revived his political career Tuesday by defeating Democrat Chris Mann. Kobach was coming off losses in the Kansas governor’s race in 2018 and a U.S. Senate primary in 2020 that Republicans chalked up to lackluster campaigns and views that turned off independent and moderate GOP voters. Many Republicans said they saw a Kobach this year who ran a better campaign and stayed more on message. Mann is a former police officer and local prosecutor making his first run for elected office.


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.


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. 

Case Dismissed Against Lawrence Woman Accused of Child Sex Crime Against 4-Year-Old

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A case against a Lawrence woman accused of fondling a 4-year-old has been dismissed in Douglas County District Court. The  Lawrence Journal-World reports that the woman, 30-year-old Ashlyn Marie Sloan, had been charged with one felony count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child by lewd fondling or touching. The charge relates to an incident between July and December of 2021. Judge Stacey Donovan dismissed the charge without prejudice, which means the case may be refiled later. The dismissal was requested by Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden, who listed “insufficient evidence to proceed at this time” as the reason.  As previously reported by the Journal-World, Sloan was booked into the Douglas County Jail on the charge on April 19 and was released on a $100,000 bond.


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.


Kansas City Officer Appeals Conviction in Shooting Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City police detective convicted of shooting and killing a Black man in 2019 is asking that his conviction be overturned or that he be given a new trial. A Jackson County judge convicted Eric DeValkenaere in March of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the death of Cameron Lamb. His attorneys argue in a brief filed Oct. 27 with the Missouri Court of Appeals that Circuit Judge Dale Youngs' decision was flawed. They say DeValkenaere, who is white, and his partner had probable cause to be on Lamb's property and arrest him, and that his death was lawful use of force by a police officer.


KC Chiefs Owner Speaks Out About Former Assistant Coach's DUI Conviction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR/KPR) - Kansas City Chiefs owner and chairman of the board Clark Hunt says his organization was compliant with the NFL's alcohol policy the night former assistant coach Britt Reid drove drunk, severely injuring a 5-year-old girl. For the first time, Hunt acknowledged that the Chiefs conducted an internal investigation shortly after the night in February last year, when Britt Reid crashed his pickup truck into two vehicles parked on the entrance ramp of I-435 near Arrowhead Stadium. "That investigation showed that there was no gathering of employees either at the practice or the stadium where alcohol was consumed," Hunt said. He says the NFL has rules against players and staff consuming alcohol at team facilities. He also says he does not expect any further action from the league as a result of Reid's conviction. Reid, the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, was sentenced last week to three years in prison after pleading guilty in September to a felony charge of driving while intoxicated.


Kansas Officials Investigate Death of Runaway Foster Child

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KNS) - A Kansas foster child died last week after running away from custody, stealing a car and getting into a car crash. The Kansas News Service reports that the foster child was under the care of Successful Dreams, an agency in the southeast Kansas town of Parsons. The 13-year-old was at a Halloween event, and as the child and agency staff were returning home, the child got away and stole a car. The car swerved into oncoming traffic and hit a semi-truck in Oklahoma. The child died days later from his injuries. The Department for Children and Families is investigating the incident, but would not comment further.  

(AP version)

Kansas Officials Investigate Death of Foster Child Who Fled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are investigating the death of a foster child who left a residential treatment facility, stole a truck and crashed into a semi-truck in Oklahoma last month. The state Department of Children and Families confirmed it is investigating what happened to determine if there were any regulatory violations at the facility the 13-year-old walked away from on October 27. The teen had gone to a Halloween party in Independence, Kansas, on the day of the crash that was sponsored by the residential treatment program where he was living in Parsons. Officials say the teen went to a car dealership and stole the truck before driving to Oklahoma. He died two days after the crash in a Tulsa hospital.


Midwest Wildfires Exhaust Volunteer Firefighters

UNDATED (HPM) - More than half of the U.S. is currently experiencing a drought and that means more wildfires.  Harvest Public Media reports that volunteer firefighters across the Midwest are especially feeling the pressure. It’s not unusual for wildfires to spark during the fall season, but the prolonged dry conditions are only making it worse. So far this year, wildfires have burned more than 7 million acres across the U.S.

Chip Redmond, a volunteer fire captain and meteorologist with Kansas Mesonet, says volunteer firefighters across the state are exhausted from putting out so many fires this past spring, summer, and now fall. “You have to get that enjoyment of being an aide to your community. If you don't get that anymore because you think it's too dangerous. You're just putting yourself at risk then it has a big impact," he said. Redmond says fire prevention efforts by the public go further than what a fire department can do. He says people can avoid fire risks by making sure their yards don’t overgrow or by driving through tall dry grass.

Volunteer firefighter Derek Rothe says he’s noticed the increase in wildfires first-hand in rural Iowa. He helped put out a 3,000-acre field fire late last month alongside a dozen other volunteer fire departments. He says busy wildfire seasons like this one can take a toll on volunteer fire fighters. “If you go and make every call, you're gonna' burn yourself out of how many hours that you can physically handle going and putting towards this," he said. Nearly 70% of fire departments are made up of volunteer firefighters.


High Schooler Killed in Mass Shooting at KCK Halloween Party Remembered at Vigil

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) - A crowd of about 150 people gathered for a candle light vigil Sunday outside New Story Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Six days earlier, about two miles north of the church, multiple people wearing costumes and masks entered a home where a Halloween party attended by nearly 100 high school students was underway. Before the night was over, a group of unwelcome guests had shot and killed 17-year-old Katron Harris, a senior at Turner High School.  The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting also injured half a dozen other teens. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene.

At school, Harris, known for his friendliness, served drinks to his peers at the school’s coffee shop. After school, they cheered him on as he played wide receiver and special teams receiver on the football team. At home, he was a big brother to his 14-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother. He loved to dance and sing with his cousins. Harris’s family said he spoke eagerly of his plans post-graduation. Harris hoped to launch his own t-shirt business, already in contact with printers and preparing merchandise.

On Thursday, 22-year-old Daijon Estell, was charged with first degree murder in Harris’s killing, as well as one count of aggravated assault, eight counts of child endangerment and two counts of aggravated child endangerment. At a news conference last week, Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Karl Oakman said detectives were searching for as many as six suspects — all of whom showed up disguised in costume for the event. The homeowner noticed the group was made of individuals older than the rest of the party-goers and asked them to leave, police have said. The suspects left the home, then sprayed the house with bullets. Students, mostly younger teens between 14-16 years old, were both inside and outside the home at the time, and several were shot.


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.


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.


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.