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Republican Jim Barnett commits to LGBT nondiscrimination policy if elected governor of Kansas

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett said Thursday that he would be committed to a nondiscrimination policy to protect gay and lesbian state workers, a policy that current Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded in 2015.

"On the social issues, it’s been a huge black eye for our state, and I will make it very clear here today that if I am governor of Kansas, there will not be discrimination," Barnett said during a news conference Thursday.

When asked specifically about an executive order that was in place during Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' administration barring discrimination in executive branch agencies on the basis of sexual orientation or identity, an executive order that Brownback rescinded, Barnett said, "I would support that."

In this photo from June 20, 2017, Jim Barnett, a former state senator and 2006 Republican nominee for governor, announces that he plans to run again for governor in 2018.

In this photo from June 20, 2017, Jim Barnett, a former state senator and 2006 Republican nominee for governor, announces that he plans to run again for governor in 2018. by Peter Hancock

Thursday's news conference was intended to highlight Barnett's agenda for public education, which he referred to as "the driver of the Kansas economy in the 21st century." He said his agenda would be focused on investing in early-childhood education, increasing funding in order to stop the cycle of school finance litigation, and focusing on career preparation for Kansas students.

Answering questions from reporters, Barnett said that during his recent statewide tour of Kansans, he had heard from businesses all across the state that their biggest need is access to a highly trained workforce.

He was then asked about the number of young people who leave Kansas after high school or college for larger metropolitan areas elsewhere in the country that are perceived as more tolerant than Kansas, where lawmakers in recent years have proposed a series of "religious freedom" bills that critics say would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Barnett, who is known as a social conservative on many issues, said he recognized that as a problem in Kansas.

Since announcing his candidacy earlier this year, Barnett said, he has tried to identify six major issues that he wants to focus on, spending one month talking about each. Earlier, he has gone on tours to focus on agricultural policy, health care, economic development and tourism.

"This month we're talking about education, and our last tour is going to be a young professionals tour," he said. "How do we change the image of this state in the fashion that you just described? And it's hugely important because a lot of us are going to retire, or are retired already, and if we don't replace ourselves we're going to be in trouble."

Barnett is vying in a crowded Republican field for the gubernatorial nomination in 2018. The perceived front-runner in the race is Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is known nationally for his crusades against illegal immigration, and who earlier this week received the endorsement of the nationally syndicated talk show host Sean Hannity.

Also running for the GOP nomination are Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer; Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer; former Rep. Mark Hutton, of Wichita; former Rep. Ed O'Malley, who now lives in Wichita; Wichita businessman Willis "Wink" Hartman; and a number of other lesser-known candidates, including several teenagers.

Comments

Lisa Rasor

"The perceived front-runner in the race is Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is known nationally for his crusades against illegal immigration AND NON-EXISTENT VOTER FRAUD WITH THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF VOTER SUPPRESSION, and who earlier this week received the endorsement of the nationally syndicated talk show host Sean Hannity." There. Fixed it for ya, LJW.

1 week, 1 day ago

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Bob Smith

Your caps lock is sticking, Lisa. https://pjmedia.com/blog/tips-for-not...

1 week, 1 day ago

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P Allen Macfarlane

Perhaps it would have been better if she had underlined the text she wanted to underline.

1 week, 1 day ago

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Steve Jacob

When large businesses are thinking of relocating, things like protections in the LGBT community are looked at. Especially in the tech field when you have more workers that are LGBT. Discrimination is bad for business. Heck, Austin would be the on the top of the Amazon HQ list if not for that states record on LGBT affairs.

1 week, 1 day ago

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Calvin Anders

I'm sure you are correct Steve, but I think this position may disqualify Barnett in the eyes of the vocal and bigoted group making up an apparently large enough segment of Kansas Republicans that they are pandered to by most Republican candidates. If there is one thing that group can't seem to tolerate, it's tolerance. I am glad to see someone who claims to be a Republican take such a forward thinking position(relative to his fellow candidates). But let's not give Barnett too much credit. He is basically shifting to a morally reasonable stance because he is seeing the tide start to shift. And we should not wear ourselves out patting someone on the back for what should be common decency.

1 week, 1 day ago

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Tim Foley

When it is dependent on a Governor to issue an executive order to guarantee the rights of all Kansas residents instead of actual legislated guarantees, then it shows there is a more deep seated problem than one leader.

1 week, 1 day ago

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Jeremy Smith

This is a last ditch attempt to save a lame attempt at a campaign. Barnett does not stand a chance because the conservative vote, especially from Western Kansas , will never go to him. I have talked to people who say his campaign is in shambles and is not far from the end. This seems like a last way to pull into some money and save his campaign. For those who laud him for this stance, I will tell you that it is merely a way to better his campaign and not a way to better the lives of Kansans

1 week ago

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Carol Bowen

He sounds sensible. That’s a relif. Give it time.

1 week ago

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