Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum on Tuesday joined the flock of veteran Republicans who endorse Democrat Laura Kelly in the governor's race.
The announcement by the three-term senator follows endorsements by former Gov. Bill Graves and 27 other Republican office-holders. Kelly needs support from moderate Republicans and independents to sway voters from independent Greg Orman and Republican Kris Kobach, whose spokeswoman questioned the credentials of party "has-beens."
In announcing her support for Kelly, Kassebaum praised the state senator from Topeka for studying issues and working to solve "real problems."
"Her competence, understanding and dedication are leadership qualities that Kansas needs at this time," Kassebaum said.
Kassebaum served in the Senate from 1978 to 1997 and is the daughter of former Gov. Alf Landon, the Republican nominee for president in 1936.
“Kassebaum dedicated her career to serving the people of Kansas, and I’m honored to have her support in my campaign for governor,” Kelly said. “So much of what Sen. Kassebaum worked tirelessly to achieve for this state has been put at risk these past eight years. I’m running for governor to restore what makes our state special — top-notch schools, safe roads and access to affordable health care.”
A survey released last week by Public Policy Polling shows Kobach leading Kelly 39-38 percent, with 9 percent favoring independent Greg Orman. The other independent on the ballot, Rick Kloos, received 2 percent, and 1 percent supports Libertarian Jeff Caldwell.
Kelly's opponents shrugged off the latest installment of a Republican supporting a Democrat in this campaign cycle. On Monday, 36 Republicans said they would support Democrat Paul Davis in his 2nd District congressional race against Republican Steve Watkins. Some of those who support Kelly and Davis also supported Davis during his gubernatorial campaign four years ago.
"Democrats trot out these same tired has-beens clinging to the past, pretending to be Republicans when they so clearly left the party a long time ago," said Danedri Herbert, the spokeswoman for Kobach. "Pro-abortion? Check. Anti-gun? Check. Pro-Obamacare? Check. Republican? Yeah, right."
Caldwell refereed to the endorsement of "more of the same song and dance" while Kloos spokesman Rick Parsons said Kloos got into the race because he, too, is a frustrated Republican.
"The reason we are not surprised, nor are we terribly bothered, by this news is because we already knew that our support would not come from the political establishment in Topeka," Kloos said. "Our support will and always has come from regular, hard-working Kansans who are just as frustrated with the current political climate."