Derek Schmidt and Ralph DeZago — the two Republican candidates running for state attorney general in the Aug. 3 primary — share many views.
Both candidates promise to bring a more professional and open style of leadership free of political crusades. They also want to emphasize strong consumer protection policies.
Schmidt and DeZago disagree with Attorney General Steve Six’s decision to not join 21 other attorneys general across the country in a lawsuit that challenges the federal Health Care Reform Act.
“The more states that don’t join in, the better chances that (the U.S. Supreme Court) will not take (the lawsuit). And that is what I think is happening here. And the suggestion that the decision not to get involved is political, I think is ridiculous. It is a pro-Obamacare decision,” DeZago said.
For Schmidt, not challenging the Health Care Reform Act allows for unchecked federal powers at the expense of state authority.
The two candidates also back Arizona’s immigration law that would require authorities to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants in the course of enforcing other laws. Ten other attorneys general have joined together to support Arizona and oppose the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against it.
“I think the decision by the federal government to spend resources trying to block Arizona from exercising their police powers within its borders was outrageous,” Schmidt said. “Whatever one thinks about the immigration policy ... surely we can agree our federal government should not be spending our tax dollars to prevent states from enforcing public safety.”
DeZago believes the Kansas attorney general should be in support of Arizona’s immigration law.
Both men have had experience as assistant attorneys general.
DeZago was appointed under former Attorney General Phill Kline and mainly defended the Kansas Department of Corrections against inmate lawsuits during his time in the attorney general’s office.
Schmidt was an assistant attorney general in the consumer protection division.
Schmidt, 42, has been a member of the Kansas Senate for nine years, the last five of which he has been the majority leader.
“I have the broadest experience of any of the candidates in the race,” Schmidt said. “I think it is important as attorney general to understand the client, and the client is state government and the citizens of this state.”
This is the first time that DeZago, 61, has run for office. DeZago is now the city prosecutor for Junction City. In his early legal days, DeZago was the state’s chief public defender for the 8th Judicial District of Kansas and then for north-central Kansas.
In more than 29 years of practice, DeZago said he has handled thousands of criminal cases and done hundreds of trials from misdemeanors to first-degree murders. That background is what prompted him to run, DeZago said.
“The things I see about the attorney general aren’t so much questions of issues, it is really questions of experience and competence to do the job,” DeZago said.