Topeka Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson endorsed fellow Democrat and incumbent Steve Six in the attorney general’s race on Wednesday, touting his record as a lawyer and district court judge.
“It’s very important to have an attorney general who’s an outstanding attorney who’s very committed to being an outstanding attorney general as opposed to electing someone who is essentially a politician,” Parkinson said at a news conference.
Six was appointed attorney general in January 2008 by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and is seeking a full four-year term. His Republican challenger in the Nov. 2 general election is Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt.
The GOP nominee is touting an endorsement from Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning, and he’s also received the backing of former GOP Gov. Bill Graves. Schmidt brushed aside Parkinson’s endorsement of Six.
“It’s clear that the opposition is using poll tested, consultant-generated buzzword talking points from their high-priced East Coast campaign consultants. But Kansans aren’t buying that,” Schmidt said in a telephone interview from Independence. “In this race there is one experienced leader with a proven commitment to public service and there is one hand-picked political appointee who is increasingly desperate, and it’s sad.”
Six reported in July on campaign reports that he paid $13,990 to Cooper & Secrest of Alexandria, Va., for polling research. Schmidt’s own campaign finance report from July shows he paid $4,000 to Wilson Grand Communications of Alexandria, Va., for communications consulting.
Parkinson endorsed Schmidt’s bid for the Senate in 2000 when he was then-Kansas Republican Party chairman. Parkinson switched parties to become Sebelius’ running mate in 2006.
The governor said Schmidt is a nice person, but says Kansas needs an attorney general who serves all residents and not a career politician. Schmidt has been in the Senate since 2001.
Six, who was a district court judge in Douglas County before becoming attorney general, said he’s worked hard to restore integrity to the office and serve all Kansans. Six was appointed to replace Democrat Paul Morrison, who resigned amid a sex scandal in 2006. That happened less than two years after Morrison defeated Republican incumbent Phill Kline, who focused on investigating abortion clinics during his one term in office.
“I’ve never found as my time as a judge or during my time as attorney general that there really is a Republican or Democratic way to enforce the law,” Six said. “We’ve tried to be independent and make the best decisions for the state.”
Schmidt, who also serves as a city prosecutor in Independence, said he had more than political experience, citing time spent in the late 1990s in the consumer protection office of Attorney General Carla Stovall.
“I don’t make a big deal about it. No candidate should hold themselves out to be something they’re not. They should shoot straight with voters. There’s no Jack McCoy in this race,” Schmidt said, referring to the fictional New York City district attorney in the television drama “Law & Order.”
Schmidt scheduled a news conference for Thursday to pick up the endorsement of former Kansas Bureau of Investigations Director Larry Welch.
Gavin Young, a spokesman for Six’s campaign, cited the attorney general’s record in less than three years, saying it included restoring the state’s consumer protection division and recovering Medicaid funds from fraud.
“That’s a record of taking politics out of the office and returning it to the right priorities,” Young said.