Topeka Atty. Gen. Phill Kline filed Monday 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.
Jessica's law calls for a minimum 25-year sentence for adults convicted of several different kinds of sex crimes against anyone under 14, including rape, aggravated sodomy and sexual exploitation. A second conviction, regardless of the victim's age, requires a 40-year sentence, and a third conviction of a sex crime results in a life sentence with no possibility of parole. The Kansas law was modeled after a Florida law named for a 9-year-old girl who was killed last year by a convicted sex offender.
Morrison, the Johnson County district attorney the past 17 years, said he supported Jessica's law.
His 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 a rally, Kline said he was running on his record of achievements, the top being helping to strengthen punishments against violent offenders, especially those who hurt children. 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.
Neither Kline nor Morrison face a challenger in the Aug. 1 primaries, so they will face off Nov. 7 in the general election.