Kline may go after D.A. job

A.G. registers to vote in Johnson County

? Phill Kline has registered to vote in Johnson County, a sign that the recently defeated attorney general may be interested in replacing the man who ousted him from office as the district attorney there.

The district attorney’s job will be vacant because of Democrat Paul Morrison’s victory over Kline on Nov. 7.

But Morrison switched parties last year to challenge Kline. Under Kansas law, local GOP officials will pick Morrison’s replacement because Morrison was a Republican when he was re-elected as district attorney in 2004.

That sets up the possibility of the unprecedented job switch, and Johnson County leaders of Kansans for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, are supporting Kline’s appointment as district attorney.

He registered to vote Thursday in Johnson County, listing a Stilwell address, the county election commissioner’s office said Friday. Kline has been living outside Topeka while serving as attorney general.

Kline has declined to discuss his future.

“The attorney general is considering all of his options,” said spokeswoman Sherriene Jones. “He has yet to make a final decision on anything.”

Some 650 Republican activists plan to meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Westside Family Church in Lenexa to pick a new district attorney.

Kansans for Life’s support for Kline’s appointment as district attorney is not a surprise because of his longtime, vocal opposition to abortion.

Kline also waged a two-year legal battle to obtain the records of 90 patients at two Kansas abortion clinics – which became a political liability when Morrison suggested it was an invasion of the patients’ privacy.

One of the clinics is operated in Overland Park by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. Kline has said he is investigating whether the clinics performed illegal late-term abortions or failed to report sexual abuse of children.

So far, there are four announced candidates. They are Rick Guinn, Morrison’s chief deputy; assistant district attorneys Steve Howe and Chris McMullen; and Olathe attorney Scott Hattrup.

Kline retains some support among conservative Republicans, who control both the Johnson County and state party organizations. However, Kline received only 35 percent of the vote in Johnson County against Morrison.

Morrison has said he doesn’t think Kline’s appointment is likely and that there are other good candidates for the job.

The name of whomever is chosen will go to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, but state law gives her little discretion. It says that within seven days the governor shall make the appointment, or that person will take office anyway.

In August 2005, Sebelius wouldn’t ratify the appointment of a new Smith County sheriff because the person picked by the GOP there had been convicted of official misconduct and illegal eavesdropping. That person still took office.