House Speaker Ron Ryckman rules out gubernatorial bid, backs Derek Schmidt in 2022 race
Attorney General Derek Schmidt picked up a high-profile endorsement in the burgeoning Kansas governor's race Tuesday, with House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, announcing he would back Schmidt's campaign.
The move confirms Ryckman himself wouldn't enter the governor's race, something rumored to be a possibility last year but which became increasingly less likely after Schmidt and former Gov. Jeff Colyer announced their bids to unseat Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.
In a video released Tuesday morning, Ryckman praised Schmidt's conservative credentials and said it was necessary to "turn the page" on the "disappointments" of recent years in a bid to "take the veto pen away from Laura Kelly" — a reference to the eight pieces of legislation rejected by Kelly during the recent legislative session.
"As speaker of the House for the past five years, I’ve worked closely with all the major candidates for governor," he said. "And to me, the best choice is clear."
While the attorney general is often involved in policy decisions, the recent legislative session was particularly busy for Schmidt.
In the video, Ryckman praised Schmidt's efforts to overhaul the state's emergency management laws to limit executive powers and his help on school finance and abortion issues.
The attorney general also personally testified on legislation to expand conceal carry, a bill to create an independent office to oversee the state's foster care system and a new fund for money the state receives from class-action settlements with opioid manufacturers.
The announcement comes as Colyer and Schmidt ramp up their campaigns and fundraising operations, while attempting to corner the market on endorsements from their GOP brethren.
In addition to Ryckman, Schmidt has received support from Helen Van Etten, a former Kansas RNC national committeewoman, as well as Steve Baccus, a former chair of Colyer's 2018 campaign, and multiple state legislators.
Colyer, meanwhile, has earned the heavyweight endorsement of U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and last week announced the backing of U.S. Rep. Tracy Mann, Colyer's former lieutenant governor.