Schmidt Declares For AG's Office

Sen. Derek Schmidt
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Topeka (WIBW) - A state senator wants to move to the attorney general's office.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, announced Wednesday that he'll run for Kansas Attorney General in next year's elections.

"Over the past year, my family and I have considered how I could make the greatest contribution to our state and whether I would be a candidate for public office in 2010. This is an intensely personal decision, " Schmidt said.

Schmidt said his final decision was inspired by the bust of a meth lab about a mile from his home in Independence. He says, for a time, an armed fugitive was on the loose.

"Life's events sometimes have a way of opening our eyes to the obvious," he said. "The principal focus of my service in the Senate has been making Kansas a safer and more secure place to live, work and raise a family. This work is not done and I remain committed to it. This is where I can make the greatest difference for our state over the next four years."

Kansas Democrats, however, were quick to question his motives as nothing more than political.

"In the past few months Derek Schmidt has expressed interest in running for Congress, Secretary of State, and now Attorney General," Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Kenny Johnson said. "Derek Schmidt has demonstrated an inability to remain focused on the job before him. At this rate hell be running for Governor within a month."

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said Schmidt may have decided to run for Attorney General because other Republicans are already campaigning for offices in which he expressed interest.

"It is apparent to me that his real interest is in advancing his career in the Kansas Republican Party," Hensley said. "Kansans don’t need another politician in the Attorney General’s Office...The people of Kansas need an Attorney General who is committed to public service, not someone who wants to use the office as a political stepping stone."

Current Attorney General Steven six's office says Six hasn't made any official announcement regarding next year's election and is focusing on keeping Kansans safe, not politics.

Both Hensley and Johnson praised Six's service since being appointed to replace Paul Morrison, who resigned amid a sex scandal.

"Attorney General Steve Six has demonstrated that his priority is public safety, not politics," Johnson said. "He was the first attorney general in decades to personally prosecute a murder case. He cracked down on fraud and recovered millions of tax dollars for the state that would have been lost. He's aggressively enforcing consumer protection laws, recovering millions for Kansas consumers."

As a Senator, Schmidt serves as vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Among his accomplishments, he lists sponsoring the Sheriff Matt Samuels Chemical Control Act, which sharply reduced methamphetamine production in Kansas. He also sponsores Jessica's Law, toughening penalties for sex offenders, and he wrote the law establishing an independent office of inspector general to seek out fraud and abuse in the Kansas Medicaid program.

Schmidt has worked as a private attorney, including service as city prosecutor for Independence.

He graduated from the University of Kansas and earned his law degree from Georgetown University. He also holds a master's degree in international politics from Leicester University in the United Kingdom and currently is pursuing an advanced degree in law at the University of Kansas School of Law.