Laura Kelly

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Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly official photo.jpg
48th Governor of Kansas
Assumed office
January 14, 2019
LieutenantLynn Rogers
Preceded byJeff Colyer
Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 18th district
In office
January 10, 2005 – January 14, 2019
Preceded byDave Jackson
Succeeded byVic Miller
Personal details
Born (1950-01-24) January 24, 1950 (age 69)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Ted Daughety
ResidenceCedar Crest
EducationBradley University (BS)
Indiana University Bloomington (MS)

Laura Kelly (born January 24, 1950) is an American politician serving as the 48th governor of Kansas since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, she represented the 18th district in the Kansas Senate from 2005 to 2019.[1] Kelly ran for governor in the 2018 election and defeated the Republican nominee, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.[2]

Early life[edit]

Kelly was born in New York City to a military family that moved often and was stationed overseas. She studied at Bradley University, earning a Bachelor of Science in psychology, and at Indiana University, earning a Master of Science in therapeutic recreation.[3] Kelly was the executive director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association.

Early political career[edit]

Kelly was elected to the Kansas Senate in November 2004, later serving as Minority Whip.[4] In 2007, she was asked to serve as the Ranking Minority member of the Kansas Ways and Means Committee. Kelly helped to establish the Early Childhood Development Block Grants program in the State of Kansas.[5]

In late 2009 Kelly briefly considered a run for Kansas's 2nd congressional district.[6] During the 2011–2012 legislative sessions, she served as the Kansas Senate Assistant Minority Leader[7]

Some of the top contributors to Kelly's 2008 campaign were the Senate Democrats of Kansas, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee of Kansas, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Astrazeneca, the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, and herself.[8]

Governor of Kansas[edit]


On December 15, 2017, Kelly announced her intention to run for governor of Kansas. In the Democratic primary she ran against former mayor of Wichita Carl Brewer and former Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Josh Svaty.[9][10]

On May 24, 2018, Kelly announced State Senator Lynn Rogers as her running mate.[11] On August 7, she defeated Brewer and Svaty, receiving 51.5% of the vote.[12][13] On November 6, Kelly defeated the Republican nominee, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, receiving 47.8% of the vote.[14][15]


Kelly was endorsed by former Kansas Governor and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.[16] She was also endorsed by 28 current or former Republican government officials, including Kansas Governor Bill Graves; former State Senator, Lt. Governor and U.S. Senator Sheila Frahm, Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer, Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, Senate President Dick Bond, Senate President Dave Kerr, Senate Vice President John Vratil, Senate Majority Leaders Tim Emert and Lana Oleen; Senators Barbara Allen, David Wysong, Wint Winter, Jr., Pete Brungardt, Ruth Teichman, Barbara Bollier, Audrey Langworthy, Terrie Huntington, Bob VanCrum, and Alicia Salisbury; Representatives JoAnn Pottorff, Ginger Barr, Jim Yonally, Jim Lowther, Fred Lorentz, and Representative and Republican Party Chairperson Rochelle Chronister; Republican National Delegate Don Johnston; and Representatives Joy Koesten and Charles Roth.[17][18]

Graves said, "Laura Kelly is the only Democrat I have ever endorsed for public office. And the reason I'm doing that now is because I believe so much is at stake in the state of Kansas. I have known Laura for over 30 years. She has all the qualities and all the capabilities that we are looking for to lead the state during this difficult time and to reestablish the state to what it once was. ... Laura has integrity, and I know she will bring Kansans together regardless of party to solve problems."[16] Former Republican state senator Tim Owens was the campaign treasurer for Kansas independent candidate Greg Orman, but he stepped down from that post on October 30 and endorsed Kelly, believing only she could beat Kobach.[19]

Kelly described her candidacy as aimed at reversing the fiscal, educational and other disasters of Sam Brownback's governance. She characterized her opponent, who had been noted for his broad disenfranchisement of voters and legal strategies against immigrants, as "Sam Brownback on steroids".[20]


Office Incumbent
Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers
Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli
Secretary of Administration DeAngela Burns-Wallace
Secretary of Aging and Disability Services Laura Howard (interim)
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam
Secretary of Children and Families Laura Howard (interim)
Secretary of Commerce David Toland
Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz (interim)
Secretary of Health and Environment Lee Norman
Superintendent of the Highway Patrol Mark Bruce
Secretary of Labor Delia Garcia
Secretary of Revenue Mark Beshears (interim)
Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz (interim)
Secretary of Wildlife and Parks Brad Loveless


Political positions[edit]


Kelly has said she would like to expand Medicaid and reform the KanCare program so more citizens have access to healthcare.[21]

Kansas budget[edit]

Kelly has said the experimental Kansas budget by Sam Brownback led to cuts in schools, roads, and public safety. She would like to reverse those changes and pointed out that after there were major budget shortages she led a bipartisan effort to successfully balance the budget without increasing taxes.[21]

School funding[edit]

Kelly has stated that she would like to ensure Kansas schools are funded and focus on improving the performance of Kansas students to be competitive with other parts of the country. For example, she would address the statewide teacher shortage and improve pay for educators. She would also like to expand early childhood programs and increase options for students pursuing higher education.[21]

LGBTQ equality[edit]

In her first official act as governor, Kelly signed an executive order reinstating the protections for LGBT workers that Governor Sam Brownback had eliminated in 2015.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Kelly has been married to physician Ted Daughety, a specialist in pulmonary and sleep disorders, since 1979. They moved to Topeka in 1986, in part because of the quality of the educational system. They have two adult daughters, Kathleen and Molly Daughety.[20]

Electoral history[edit]

Kansas gubernatorial Democratic primary, 2018
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Laura Kelly 79,301 51.5%
Democratic Carl Brewer 30,885 20.1%
Democratic Josh Svaty 26,890 17.5%
Democratic Arden Andersen 12,915 8.4%
Democratic Jack Bergeson 3,874 2.5%
Majority 48,416 31.4%
Turnout 153,865


Kansas Gubernatorial election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Laura Kelly 489,337 47.8%
Republican Kris Kobach 443,346 43.3%
Independent Greg Orman 66,163 6.5%
Libertarian Jeff Caldwell 18,898 1.8%
Independent Rick Kloos 6,232 0.6%
Majority 45,991 4.50%
Turnout 1,023,976
Democratic gain from Republican Swing +1.7%


Kansas Senate 18th district election, 2016[25]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Laura Kelly (incumbent) 15,007 51.6
Republican Dave Jackson 14,076 48.4
Total votes 29,083 100.0
Democratic hold
Kansas Senate 18th district election, 2012[26]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Laura Kelly (incumbent) 14,813 51.7
Republican Dick Barta 13,833 48.3
Total votes 28,646 100.0
Democratic hold
Kansas Senate 18th district election, 2008[27]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Laura Kelly (incumbent) 18,009 58.1
Republican James Zeller 12,959 41.8
Total votes 30,968 100.0
Democratic hold
Kansas Senate 18th district election, 2004[28][29]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Laura Kelly 4,559 71.8
Democratic D. Kent Hurn 1,793 28.2
Total votes 6,352 100.0
General election
Democratic Laura Kelly 15,388 50.1
Republican Dave Jackson (incumbent) 15,290 49.9
Total votes 30,678 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ "US News - Laura Kelly Upset Victory". Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  2. ^ "Meet Laura Kelly | Laura Kelly for Governor". Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "Official Profile: Kansas (KS) State Senator Laura Kelly". Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  4. ^ "Senator Laura Kelly | Legislators | Kansas State Legislature". Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  5. ^ "Governor Laura Kelly |". Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  6. ^ ""Kelly ending U.S House bid", Topeka Capital-Journal". Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  7. ^ "Senator Laura Kelly - Legislators - Kansas State Legislature". Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  8. ^ "KELLY, LAURA J -". Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  9. ^ "Brewer promises community activist campaign for governor". kansas. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Carpenter, Tim. "Democrat Joshua Svaty declares candidacy for Kansas governor". The Topeka Capital. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  11. ^ "Kelly picks fellow state senator from Wichita as running mate". kansas. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah; Bloch, Matthew; Lee, Jasmine C. (August 7, 2018). "Kansas Primary Election Results". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  13. ^ "Kansas primary election results 2018". kansas. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "Kansas Election Results 2018: Live Midterm Map by County & Analysis". Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  15. ^ "Unofficial Kansas Election Results". Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  16. ^ a b Woodall, Hunter (September 4, 2018). "Former GOP governor of Kansas endorses Democrat Laura Kelly over Kris Kobach". Kansas City Star. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  17. ^ "Laura Kelly touts growing list of Republican support". WIBW. September 14, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  18. ^ Carpenter, Tim. "Two dozen GOP lawmakers endorse Democrat Kelly for governor". The Topeka Capital Journal. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  19. ^ Shorman, Jonathan (October 31, 2018). "Orman treasurer resigns, endorses Kelly in Kansas governor race". Wichita Eagle. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Hancock, Peter (October 7, 2018). "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly hopes to 'slam the door' on Brownback's policies". Lawrence Journal World. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  21. ^ a b c "Election Guide: Laura Kelly (D-Kansas Governor)". KSNW. October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  22. ^ Shorman, Jonathan (January 15, 2019). "Kelly reinstates protections for LGBT state workers in Kansas eliminated by Brownback". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  23. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah; Bloch, Matthew; Lee, Jasmine C. (August 7, 2018). "Kansas Primary Election Results". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  24. ^ "Kansas Election Results". The New York Times. November 6, 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  25. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2016 General Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  26. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2012 General Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  27. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2008 General Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  28. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2004 Primary Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  29. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2004 General Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved March 27, 2019.

External links[edit]

Kansas Senate
Preceded by
Dave Jackson
Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 18th district

Succeeded by
Vic Miller
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Davis
Democratic nominee for Governor of Kansas
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Jeff Colyer
Governor of Kansas
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Kansas
Succeeded by
Mayor of city in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Kate Brown
as Governor of Oregon
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Kansas
Succeeded by
Jim Justice
as Governor of West Virginia