Attorney General candidates share views, exchange barbs at Overland Park debate

13 News at Six
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:08 PM CDT
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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WIBW) - The three Republican candidates for Kansas attorney general took turns sharing their views while occasionally sparring with each other at a debate sponsored by the Johnson County Bar Association this afternoon at the Doubletree Hotel in Overland Park.

Candidates who participated in the debate were Kris Kobach, of Lecompton, a former Kansas Secretary of State; Tony Mattivi, of Topeka, a retired federal prosecutor; and Kellie Warren, of Leawood, a Republican state senator.

The primary debate, which attracted about 200 people, was open only to members of the Johnson County Bar Association, though it was televised by Kansas City PBS.

Candidates fielded questions on topics that included abortion, gun control, voting rights and immigration.

Though they differed on a number of points, all three branded themselves as conservative, pro-life Republicans.

The first question posed to the candidates by moderator Nick Haines dealt with abortion and the looming Aug. 2 vote on the Value Them Both initiative, which would restrict abortions in Kansas.

“The next attorney general is the person who’s going to be standing at the podium defending Value Them Both,” Mattivi said. “When Value Them Both passes on Aug. 2 -- I support it. I’m pro-life. I’m a conservative Catholic Republican.”

Kobach said he also supports the Value Them Both initiative.

“I will aggressively defend Value Them Both and any pro-life legislation -- indeed all statutes that our Kansas Legislature passes,” Kobach said. “Indeed, I just released a five-point plan that talks about what we need to do to restore our pro-life laws that were cast into doubt and the one that was expressly overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court when it made its erroneous decision.”

Warren said she provided support to put the Value Them Both initiative on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

“I am the only person on this stage who has done anything to put the pro-life Value the Both Amendment on your ballot,” Warren said. “And it’s because I fight and win tough elections and lead on conservative policy for Kansans in the Legislature.”

Following the debate, each candidate shared what they thought was the most important takeaway from the event.

“I think one thing that came through today,” Kobach said, “is that I am the one who is most aggressively planning on going after Joe Biden in court.”

Said Mattivi, ”I think the biggest takeaway was there is really a sharp contrast in this race. There’s one person who’s a career prosecutor, and two that are career politicians. Right now, it’s incredibly important that our chief law enforcement official actually be a law enforcement official. I think that message is resonating with voters.”

Of the biggest takeaway from the debate, Warren said, “I think it’s we need the Republican who fights and wins, whether that’s at the ballot box, whether that’s on conservative policy or in the courtroom Kansans needs to elect the Republican nominee who fights and wins.”

The winner of the Republican primary race for Kansas Attorney general will square off against Democrat Chris Mann, of Lawrence, who is running unopposed in the primary.

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