May 21, 2024

AG Derek Schmidt files lawsuit to bar out-of-state candidates from running for governor in Kansas

TOPEKA, KS- People who do not reside in Kansas are not eligible to run for or serve as governor of Kansas, Attorney General Derek Schmidt is arguing in a lawsuit filed today.

The lawsuit, filed in Shawnee County District Court, asks the court to declare that the Legislature has, through several statutes, already determined that candidates for governor and lieutenant governor must be residents of the state. Schmidt argues that while no single statute expressly requires Kansas residency, these several statutes taken together clearly establish the Legislative intent that gubernatorial candidates must be residents of the state.

“It appears that the Legislature always has intended candidates for Kansas governor to reside in our state,” Schmidt said. “Other states have written their residency requirements more clearly, so we’re asking the court to interpret Kansas law so the meaning will be clear.”

Included in the statutes that Schmidt cites is K.S.A. 25-4004, which specifies the method by which candidates for governor and lieutenant governor may have their name placed on the primary ballot. One of those methods is by nomination petition, which the law specifies must include the candidate’s city of residence “and state of Kansas.” The lawsuit also cites provisions of the Kansas Campaign Finance Act, the statute specifying how a candidate’s city of residence is to be listed on the ballot, the statute specifying how candidates may withdraw from the ballot and the Governors of Kansas Hometown Heritage Act, which authorizes the Kansas Department of Transportation to install signs at the hometowns of Kansas governors.

In a circumstance without precedent, 10 people who reside in other states already have taken the initial step required to become candidates for Kansas governor in the 2018 election. Additional residents of other states have expressed publicly an interest in running for Kansas governor. Schmidt noted that having one or more ineligible candidates on the ballot could inject confusion and uncertainty into the election outcome, particularly if the election is close.

“It’s better for Kansans to know from the courts the answer to the residency question before the ballot is set and the votes for governor are cast,” Schmidt said.

Several teenage candidates younger than age 18 who live in Kansas also have begun the process to run for governor. They would not be affected by the outcome of the lawsuit, which relates only to whether people who live out of state may become gubernatorial candidates in Kansas and not to candidates’ ages. The lawsuit only addresses the legality of out-of-state candidates for governor and lieutenant governor and not for other statewide elected offices.