KANSAS (KSNT) – Kansas gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt has named a running mate in his race for the governor’s seat.
Candidate Schmidt announced Wednesday morning that Katie Sawyer will be his running mate and candidate for Lieutenant Governor. The duo officially filed their candidacy for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in Topeka.
If elected, Sawyer, 38, would be the youngest Republican lieutenant governor currently serving in America. From 1919 to 2019, only 10 different women have held statewide office, according to the League of Woman Voters of Kansas. Kansas has had only one female Lt. Governor, from 1995 to 1996 Sheila Frahm held that position.
“Katie Sawyer brings a new generation of young and energetic leadership to help us move Kansas forward to a bright and better tomorrow,” Schmidt said.
“I can’t wait to hit the campaign trail and share our positive vision for a brighter future for our state,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer previously worked at McPherson College, in marketing and business development, as managing editor of the McPherson Sentinel, and as a reporter at the Pittsburg Morning Sun. According to a release from the Schmidt campaign, Sawyer is a graduate of Pittsburg State University and, along with her husband, is a fourth-generation owner and operator of their family farm in McPherson County. She and her husband are the parents of two young sons.
She earned her bachelor’s degrees in communications and international studies from Pittsburg State University and a Master’s degree in strategic communications from Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“In picking Katie Sawyer as his running mate today, Derek has elevated a strong voice from the next generation of Kansas leaders into a position of influence,” Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, said.
“BROWNBACK ERA” POLITICS: DEMS PUSH BACK
Kansas democrats are criticizing Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s running mate pick for the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Schmidt announced Katie Sawyer, a staffer for U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, as his Lieutenant Governor candidate Wednesday morning.
Not too long after, Democrats in the state legislature held a press conference in the afternoon bashing the Schmidt-Sawyer ticket.
“This confirms what many of us have known all along: that Derek Schmidt is running on a fiscally irresponsible, anti-education, anti-health care platform that will not move Kansas forward. We have worked so hard to overcome the Brownback era,” said Representative Susan Ruiz, a democrat from Shawnee.
During Schmidt’s announcement, Sawyer said she looks forward to making Kansas the best place to “live, work, and raise a family.”
Reporters raised questions over the phrase some have associated with the state’s former governor Sam Brownback, who’s received pushback for underfunding schools and a failed “tax experiment”.
Political attack ads have also circulated tying Schmidt to the former administration.
“I think elections are about the future, not about the past,” Schmidt responded. “I understand that we’ve got some opponents on the other side who want to relitigate their glory days and talk about things that are long since history in Kansas. We’re going forward. I’m confident of one thing. We can do better than Kansas has done the last four years.”
In an exclusive interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau, Schmidt also used the phrase when referring to easing financial burdens for families.
“Obviously, taxes are a huge issue, and we’re going to be focused on middle-class tax relief to make sure that families that choose to live, and work, and raise a family here have the ability to make ends meet,” Schmidt said.
However, contrary to opponents’ beliefs, Schmidt said education, public safety and tax relief are among their top priorities.
They’re also focusing on “building prosperity” in the state’s rural communities.
Sawyer, who owns a farm with her husband in McPherson, said the agricultural industry is a critical part of the state’s economy, and that she believes the current administration “largely neglects” rural areas.
“I would like to see us moving forward make sure that we’re taking into consideration the needs of all Kansans…all 105 counties…so that when there’s federal opportunities that present themselves, we’re in a position that we can act on them,” she said.
Speaking with Kansas Capitol Bureau, Schmidt said they’re focusing on great trade schools, universities and colleges, safe communities, and tax relief are just some of the elements.
“There is no simple, one-size fits all answer. You’ve got to listen to Kansans, you have to understand the needs of communities, you have to focus on the things that matter,” Shmidt said.
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