By Joel Mathis, The Week
It’s never easy being the Democratic governor of a famously red state. Still, it was a surprise Friday morning when Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) came out strongly against President Biden’s workplace vaccine mandate.
“While I appreciate the intention to keep people safe, a goal I share, I don’t believe this directive is the correct, or the most effective, solution for Kansas,” said Kelly, who beat notorious anti-immigration firebrand Kris Kobach (R) in 2018. “I will seek a resolution that continues to recognize the uniqueness of our state and builds on our ongoing efforts to combat a once-in-a-century crisis.”
It’s probably not a coincidence Kelly made her statement in the immediate aftermath of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Kelly is preparing to run for re-election — most likely against Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican who has already joined a federal lawsuit against the mandate. By opposing Biden’s rule now, she robs Schmidt of a potent issue while signaling her independence from national Democrats. This is pretty much how Dems have to run in Kansas.
The question is whether Kelly’s move is a one-off or if other moderate Democrats will join her in opposing Biden’s mandate.