Abortion, marijuana among topics at Democratic gubernatorial forum

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A leading Democratic candidate for Kansas governor is suggesting that one of her main rivals is misleading voters about his stance on abortion.

State Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka made the comment about former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty during a televised forum Wednesday evening.

Kelly has had a strong abortion-rights voting record in the Legislature. Another major Democratic candidate, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, also has been vocal in supporting abortion rights.

Svaty served seven years in the Kansas House before becoming agriculture secretary in 2009 and consistently supported anti-abortion legislation. But he has promised to veto any new restrictions if elected.

He said during the forum that he would support the right of women to make their own health care decisions.

Kelly's then pointed to Svaty's legislative record.

The five Democratic candidates spent their forum convincing voters that someone from their party should hold the office, but not just anyone.

"We have Republicans who have put us in this mess and I think Democrats are the ones who can get us out of this mess," Kelly said.

"Our network is huge around the state because we know the state, we've been here since the 1860's and communities respond to that," Svaty said.

Candidates differed from Republicans on legalizing marijuana. All five supported it either medically or recreationally.

"Legalization means we will have to spend less money on our prison and less money on patrol," said candidate Jack Bergeson. "Also, it's less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes."

"Look at what's happening to state's to the west of us and those that have already done it," said Brewer. "They have created an environment for economic resource where they can pay for schooling and they can pay for teachers."

Each said they disagreed with President Trump’s tariffs, citing that Kansas farmers are feeling the hurt.

"Make the farmers, make the industry independent of the ‘Feds,’ not dependent on the ‘Feds,’" candidate Arden Anderson said.

“The defining silence coming from our Governor's office has been painful to watch," Kelly said.

"All we have to do at the Federal level is stop and we need a governor that can carry that message," Svaty said.

"I will stand up to the White House and President Trump in Washington D.C. to make sure that they know that what they're doing will harm Kansas farmers," Bergeson said.

"I will get our business and I'll go and we will establish our relationships," Brewer said.

On gun control, all supported the Second Amendment but they differed on the state’s current restrictions.

"We need to get back to some of those things where we're actually training people to use the weapons so that we can have better safe usage of those weapons," Anderson said.