TOPEKA — The Kansas attorney general filed a lawsuit against the secretary of state Tuesday to block people who reside outside Kansas from being on the ballot or serving as governor.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt's filing asked the Shawnee County District Court to clarify that several state laws, taken as a whole, required candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to be residents of Kansas. No single statute expressly mandates state residency, he said, but he interpreted legislative intent to limit the governor's race to people who are legally Kansans.
“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.
The 2018 campaign has attracted 10 people from other states who took the initial step required to be a candidate for governor. Others have expressed interest in running.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is a Republican candidate for the gubernatorial nomination, has allowed nonresidents to fill out paperwork to be candidates. The lawsuit filed in Shawnee County is State of Kansas v. Secretary of 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.”
Schmidt pointed to a statute describing how candidates for governor and lieutenant governor placed their names on a primary ballot. For example, the law explains the nomination petition must include the candidate's city of residence "and state of Kansas."
The state's campaign finance law also specifies that candidates list their city of residence on the ballot, the attorney general said.
He said placement of ineligible candidates on the ballot could create confusion and distort the outcome in a close race.
The handful of teenage candidates who have entered the gubernatorial fray wouldn't be sidelined by the lawsuit, Schmidt said.