Kansas Democrat Governor Laura Kelly Refuses NAACP Debate, as Well as Two Others

Laura Kelly, governor of Kansas, speaks during a ceremony unveiling a statue of Amelia Ear
Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Vulnerable incumbent Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) turned down the opportunity to take on her Republican challenger at three debates, including one overseen by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In stark contrast, gubernatorial-hopeful Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) agreed to three additional debates besides the two already scheduled and asked Kelly to reconsider her decision to forego additional debates.

It’s no surprise Governor Kelly wants as few Kansans as possible to have a chance to hear us debate the future of our state,” Schmidt said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The people of Kansas deserve to be a part of this discussion, and I believe in order to do them justice we must expand the debate schedule beyond just the two on the books. I urge Governor Kelly to reconsider her refusal to participate in three more one-on-one debates that these three organizations have generously offered to put on,” he continued. 

The three proposed debates would be sponsored by Nexstar Media Group and would air live statewide on television; the Garden City Chamber of Commerce that would take place in Western Kansas; and the Olathe, Overland Park, Leawood NAACP that would “give the candidates an opportunity to focus on issues important to minority communities in Kansas,” according to Schmidt’s campaign. 

Breitbart News obtained late-August emails from the NAACP to Kelly’s office, saying that the debate is a chance for the governor to “directly answer questions on issues that matter most” to the NAACP, the Latino Leadership Network, and the students in Johnson County. The debate, which Schmidt agreed to, was supposed to include student representatives from two school districts to encourage the youth to “get involved in the political process.”

Kelly’s spokesperson Lauren Fitzgerald responded to the NAACP stating: “…Unfortunately, we must decline as we have already agreed to the debates/forums for the general election cycle. Thank you for reaching out.”

The NAACP responded to the denial by saying the organization is “extremely disappointed,” and left with “many questions,” adding, “our questions are just as important as the other organizations you are having a debate for.” The organization also questioned whether Kelly’s campaign is standing by its previous position, in which Fitzgerald called debates “vital to the democratic process.”

Breitbart News reached out to Kelly’s campaign and asked why the governor declined to participate in more debates, if plans could change, and if she would like to respond to Schmidt’s statement. Kelly’s campaign did not respond before publication.


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