Kansas AG Asks Court for Residency Requirement for Gov. Candidates

TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a lawsuit Tuesday, asking a state court to prohibit residents of other states from running for governor and lieutenant governor.

Kansas, which has no specific requirements for gubernatorial candidates, has more than 20 people running for the office in this year’s election, including six teenagers, some of whom are under the age of 18.

A Kansas resident tried to register his dog as a candidate in February, but was rejected by the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, which said a dog could not perform the job.

But that hasn’t stopped everyone else.

Residents and teens from states as far away as Arkansas and New York have already declared their candidacies for the state’s top job. While Vermont and Kansas are the only two states that do not have an age requirement for the governorship, only Kansas has no law requiring that gubernatorial candidates reside in the state.

The lawsuit, filed in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, says that 10 non-Kansas residents are already taking the initial step of hiring a treasurer for their campaigns.

In the lawsuit, Schmidt argues that the state Legislature has already implied that candidates for governor and lieutenant governor have to be Kansas residents, through the wording of several laws.

“It appears that the Legislature always has intended candidates for Kansas governor to reside in our state,” Schmidt said in a public statement. “Other states have written their residency requirements more clearly, so we’re asking the court to interpret Kansas law so the meaning will be clear.”

He also points to historical traditions in other states regarding residency requirements.

“Other states routinely require their candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to be residents of their states, often for a period of years before the election,” the lawsuit said. “In fact, it appears that every other state requires candidates for governor to be state residents. Thus, there should be a presumption that residency is required, and the Kansas statutes cited above must be interpreted in light of that background presumption.”

According to the lawsuit, Schmidt also claims that allowing nonresidents to run for office “would lead to absurd results.”

“For instance, if a nonresident could run for Kansas Governor, could the governor of another state run and serve as governor of two states at once?” the lawsuit said. “What about a foreign national who lives abroad?”

Schmidt said having nonresidents on the ballot could also affect the outcome of the election, especially if the results are close.

“It’s better for Kansans to know from the courts the answer to the residency question before the ballot is set and the votes for governor are cast,” Schmidt said in a public statement.

The state Legislature introduced a bill this session to set the legal age requirement for candidacy at 18 years old, though it wouldn’t take effect until after the November election. The bill will be discussed when legislators reconvene later this month.

 

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