TOPEKA, Kan. After winning the election to be Kansas' next governor, Laura Kelly says she's focusing on a push to reach across the aisle.
(Office of Gov. Jeff Colyer)
In Tuesday night's victory speech, Kelly thanked Republican Kris Kobach and Independent Greg Orman. She credited them for running aggressive campaigns and for passionately caring about Kansas.
Also in her speech, she highlighted change coming, but she says the change in Kansas is different than the "blue wave" Democrats across the nations geared up for ahead of Tuesday.
"This wasn't one side beating the other. It was Democrats and Republicans and Independents all coming together to put the state back on track," she says.
Looking ahead to Kelly starting her role as governor in January, the key question is whether she can pull support from across the aisle to get things done in Topeka.
Some Republicans like newly reinstated Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt say they're confident.
"At the end of the day, I have a job to do. She has a job to do and we're both hired by citizens of the state of Kansas," Schmidt says.
Kelly says it'll take common ground, but moving forward with a Democratic governor and largely conservative legislature is doable.
"I can tell you that most legislators, regardless of party affiliation really are there for the best interest of Kansans," she says. "It's just about finding the common ground and building consensus and then pushing that policy through."
The bipartisan-focused effort started Wednesday with Kelly spending the day in transition meetings with current Republican Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer.
On "transition day" in Topeka, Kelly says one of the first issues she plans to tackle is education. Kansas National Education President Mark Farr says a win for Kelly is a win for students in the state.
"They'll see more counselors. They'll see more opportunities that had to be cut because funds were decreased over the last, almost decade," he says.
Tuesday night, Governor-Elect Kelly made a promise to Kansans about her priorities in office
"First and foremost, strongly supporting our public schools," Kelly says.
Farr says that's a need in Kansas with students "being shortchanged for almost a decade."
Kelly says she can fix what's broken if Republicans will work with her to create the best policies.
"Governor-Elect Kelly has a proven track record of reaching across the aisle and working with both parties and I have no doubt that she'll employ that tactic as she steps into the governor's office," Farr says.