Third-party candidates’ potential impact on race for Kansas governor
TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) - In the race for Kansas governor, it was not just Democrat Laura Kelly and Republican Derek Schmidt vying for votes.
Two third-party candidates, Dennis Pyle and Seth Cordell, collected nearly 30,000 votes of the nearly 1 million cast. Chair of the Political Science Department at Wichita State University Neal Allen said in Kansas, third-party candidates are relevant if an election is close.
“In a race where the winning margin is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 14, 15,000, then those votes can matter,” Allen said.
Current governor and Democrat Laura Kelly beat out Republican Derek Schmidt in the race with just over 49% of the vote as of Wednesday, Nov. 9. Independent Dennis Pyle came away with nearly 20,000, or 2% of the overall total votes cast in Kansas.
“Governor Kelly didn't have to worry about a left wing or Green Party challenger pulling a few thousand votes from her,” Allen said. “Schmidt did have to worry about Dennis Pile.”
However, Allen said it is unclear if the voting totals themselves cost Schmidt the win. Gov. Kelly’s lead sits at around 14,000 votes.
“Your first thought is, okay, well this is enough that if Pyle hadn't been running, then Kelly would've lost,” Allen said.
But, he said it is important to factor in, if Pyle did not run, some of his voters staying home or voting for a candidate that is not Schmidt, like Kelly or Cordell. Allen said he does think Pyle’s run affected the way Schmidt handled his campaign.
“He forced Schmidt to pay more attention to the conservative base and less attention to moderates in Johnson County,” he said.
Pyle released a statement regarding the election results Wednesday writing in part “the Republican Party gave us a candidate that could not and did not win.”
Cordell, the Libertarian candidate, did receive just over 1% of the vote with over 10,000 votes total.
“It’s unclear whether the independent and libertarian candidates cost Schmidt the election,” Allen said. “Many of those voters would've either not voted, or if Pyle was not in, they would've voted for the Libertarian. If the libertarian wasn't in, then they would've voted for Pyle."
You can few election results from across the state of Kansas on KAKE’s website, just click here.