Four years after backing Kelly, police union endorses Schmidt for Kansas governor

John Hanna/Associated Press file photos

Four years after backing Democrat Laura Kelly to be Kansas’ governor, the state’s top law enforcement association is not supporting her re-election campaign.

The Kansas Fraternal Order of Police announced Saturday it was endorsing Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt in the Kansas Governor’s race.

Schmidt, the presumptive Republican nominee to run against Kelly in November, has spent nearly 12 years as Kansas’ top law enforcement official.

“Derek Schmidt is an incredible friend to law enforcement who has always had our backs as attorney general. We at the Fraternal Order of Police are thrilled he has made the choice to continue his public service and entered the race for governor,” FOP president Casey Slaughter said in a statement.

“Derek will be a law-and-order governor who always has the safety and security of our Kansas communities top of mind.”

In a statement, Schmidt said he was honored to receive the endorsement.

“Law enforcement officers are true heroes who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving others at great risk to themselves. I’m humbled these FOP officers put their faith in me, and I won’t let them down,” Schmidt said.

Kelly’s previous campaign gained support from labor unions, including the FOP, when she faced then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the general. Kelly promised to partner with officers after receiving the union’s endorsement in 2018.

In a statement Saturday Kelly’s campaign spokeswoman, Lauren Fitzgerald, said Kelly had supported law enforcement officers throughout her time in office and pointed to increased investments in police during Kelly’s administration.

“Governor Kelly will continue to fight for meaningful investments that improve the lives of Kansas law enforcement officers and public safety,” Fitzgerald said.

The Democrat has retained some union support in her reelection campaign with endorsements from the Kansas chapters of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.