TOPEKA Atty. Gen. Phill Kline filed today for re-election, and his supporters immediately went after opponent Paul Morrison over a new law that increases the sentences of those convicted of sex crimes.
House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, said Morrison, a Democrat, did "absolutely zero" to help pass what is called Jessica's law.
"Paul Morrison was AWOL when it came to the law, the most important law that we've enacted in a generation to protect the children and people of this state from sexual predators," Mays said.
When Kline was asked if he agreed with Mays' statement, Kline said Mays was familiar with how the law was passed during the recent legislative session. "You can interpret that as you wish," Kline said.
More about the race
- Kline trades criticisms with rival at 1st meeting (06-11-06)
- Kline to kick off re-election campaign (06-10-06)
- Morrison fires opening shots in race (06-07-06)
- Johnson County DA Morrison files for state attorney general (06-06-06)
- Chat with Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline (02-09-06)
- Chat transcript with Paul Morrison, Democratic candidate for attorney general (11-10-05)
Morrison, the Johnson County district attorney for the past 17 years, said he supported Jessica's law.
Morrison's spokesman Mark Simpson responded to Mays, saying, "When it comes to sex offenders, Paul Morrison has 25 years of experience in putting them behind bars."
At the rally, Kline said he was running on his record of achievements, the top being helping strengthen punishments against violent offenders, especially those who hurt children.
"All of those persons who engage in that kind of criminal exploitation and conduct will face severe prison sentences," Kline said.
He also listed as accomplishments increasing Medicaid fraud collections, winning water rights cases, and arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of the Kansas death penalty, which is currently under review by the court.
Speaking on behalf of Kline at the rally were U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, Shawnee County Sheriff Dick Barta, and Kansas Republican Party executive director Ron Freeman.
Both Kline and Brownback emphasized that Kline does what he says he is going to do.
"With Phill Kline, I know where he stands," Brownback said.
Morrison has sought to compare his legal experience as a prosecutor for 26 years with that of Kline, who in the past allowed his law license to lapse three times.
But Mays said "there's more to being a good attorney general then just trying cases."
Kline won a close race for attorney general in 2002. Prior to that he served in the Legislature and ran an unsuccessful campaign for the 3rd congressional district seat, which includes Lawrence.
After filing for office, Kline planned to campaign in nine cities over two days.
Neither Kline nor Morrison face a challenger in the Aug. 1 primaries, so they will face off Nov. 7 in the general election.