Hard to make hay on pandemic

With COVID-19 fading into the distance, Derek Schmidt's attacks on Gov. Laura Kelly's handling of the pandemic are failing to register with voters

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Columnists

September 21, 2022 - 1:59 PM

Gov. Laura Kelly and Attorney General Derek Schmidt debate at the Sept. 10 Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. JAIME GREEN/MCT

President Joe Biden made a striking pronouncement about COVID-19 on Sunday’s “60 Minutes”: “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. … But the pandemic is over.”

That simple statement, which was quickly qualified by both the president and his staff, captures something vital about this political and cultural moment. For many of us — for most of us, perhaps — the pandemic has receded into the background. That long-awaited change has implications for Kansas and our ongoing gubernatorial race as well.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and her Republican challenger, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, face a much-changed race than the one either anticipated a year ago. Abortion rights have become a major issue, after the stunning amendment vote just last month. Both have focused on economic development and schools.

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