Former federal prosecutor running for Douglas County district attorney as a Republican

photo by: Contributed

Mike Warner

A former federal prosecutor announced on Tuesday that he will run for Douglas County district attorney as a Republican, and criticized the current DA’s office for what he sees as a litany of “prominent issues.”

Mike Warner, of Lawrence, is the first Republican candidate to enter the race. Two Democrats have filed so far to challenge incumbent Democrat Suzanne Valdez — Wyandotte County Prosecutor Tonda Hill and Dakota Loomis, who has served as both a prosecutor and defense attorney.

According to materials on his campaign website, Warner has worked in private practice in criminal law for the last decade, but before that he was employed as an assistant U.S. attorney, first in the Western District of Missouri from 1999 to 2010 and then in the District of Kansas from 2010 to 2014. In the mid-1980s he worked as a criminal defense attorney, and then in the late ’80s and ’90s he had jobs as a prosecutor in Harvey County, Wyandotte County and finally Johnson County.

Warner, who is an alumnus of Washburn University’s law school, has also had experience as a judge, first in Topeka Municipal Court in 2017 and then as a pro tem traffic court judge for Shawnee County from 2019 to 2020.

In a news release, Warner said that if elected as Douglas County DA, he would aim “to improve the office and restore it to responsible prosecution.”

Parts of his release took aim at Valdez, who took office in 2021. Warner said in his release that during her term, the DA’s office has struggled with “high employee turnover, poor relationships with law enforcement, courts, and victims, and a well-publicized disciplinary complaint involving the incumbent.”

“Unnecessary drama, subpar trial outcomes, and questionable plea agreements have been prominent issues within the office,” he said in the release. “These ongoing problems result from the current District Attorney’s lack of prosecutorial experience. If elected, I will use my background as a prosecutor to restore the office’s integrity and professionalism.”

Warner said he only intended to hold the office for a single term if elected. He also said that he was running as a Republican because he didn’t want the race to be decided solely by the Democratic primary in August.

In the 2020 election, Valdez defeated longtime Douglas County DA Charles Branson in the August primary and did not face a Republican challenger in the November general election.

“I trust voters will be well-informed in November and compare candidates’ relative strengths and experience regardless of party status,” Warner said in his release.

The last Republican to serve as Douglas County DA was Christine Kenney, whom Branson unseated in 2004, as the Journal-World has reported.

The filing deadline for potential candidates this year is June 3, and the general election will take place on Nov. 5.


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