Topeka Johnson County Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison, who switched to the Democratic Party, on Tuesday filed to run for state attorney general and blasted incumbent Phill Kline, a Republican who is seeking re-election.
"I'm happy to provide the voters of this state an alternative to Phill Kline," Morrison said at a news conference.
"If you were to scour the world, you'd have a very difficult time finding two candidates for this office that are more different than Phill Kline and myself," he said.
Morrison, who switched to the Democratic Party last year, said Kline was ill-suited for the job because of his lack of legal experience and "narrow" political agenda.
He chastised Kline for having let his law license lapse on three occasions and criticized him for seeking the medical records of 90 women who have sought abortions. The two health care clinics at the center of the dispute claim Kline is on a fishing expedition, while Kline has said he is investigating possible instances of illegal late-term abortions and child abuse.
Kline's spokesman Whitney Watson defended his employer, saying the incumbent's legal experience was broader than Morrison's and that he enjoyed the support of most high-ranking law enforcement officials.
"They (law enforcement officials) realize Attorney General Kline has worked to fight crime with them and supported them in their efforts," Watson said. As far as Kline allowing his law license to lapse, Watson said, "That issue was resolved in 2002, and voters elected him."
Kline has said he let his license lapse briefly in 1994 by mistake. It lapsed again for eight months in 1996-97 and 17 months in 1999-2001 when Kline pursued other political and business ventures.
As an example of his breadth of legal experience, Watson noted that Kline has argued in support of the Kansas death penalty before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering whether the law is constitutional.
But Morrison said Kline's lack of legal experience cost taxpayers to prepare him for arguments before the court.
Kline "spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to get schooled in how to make a 30 minute oral argument in front of the TV cameras before the United States Supreme Court," Morrison said.
Watson said Kline spent $30,000 to prepare for the case, and added that was less than the $197,000 spent by his predecessor Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall to get ready for arguments before the court on a different matter.
Morrison touted his law enforcement and legal experience.
Morrison has been district attorney 17 years and was an assistant district attorney eight years before that.
"As a career prosecutor, I have successfully prosecuted serial killers, rapists, sexual predators, and drug dealers," he said.
"As attorney general, I will continue to do everything in my power to protect Kansas families and keep our neighborhoods safe," he said.