Kansas recount confirms early trend: Johnson narrowly beats Tyson in GOP treasurer race

TOPEKA — State Senator Caryn Tyson has accepted the Republican nomination for state treasurer during a recount in six counties that barely scrambled in an extremely close primary election.

Tyson, a GOP senator from Parker in eastern Kansas, sent a message on Thursday to supporters of his campaign who donated, went door-to-door, put up yard signs, and prayed on his behalf. He lost by less than 500 votes out of the 431,000 votes cast statewide.

“As our campaign draws to a close,” he said, “I will continue to work to protect our freedoms and make Kansas a shining state of the nation. Throughout the campaign, I have been blessed to meet and get to know so many amazing Kansas residents.”

Unofficial results of primary and supplementary ballots processed by counties on August 2 showed Steven Johnson, Representative of the State of Assaria in central Kansas, ahead by 475 votes.

In his primary position for the Republican Party’s state treasurer, Assaria Rep. Steven Johnson, Parker Sen. Defeated Caryn Tyson. Johnson faces State Treasurer Lynn Rogers, a Democrat, in the November general election. (Photos by Tim Carpenter and Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Tyson sought a recount in Barton, Cloud, Dickinson, Harvey, McPherson, and Ottawa counties. In four of those counties, the recount received five votes from Johnson’s leadership, the secretary of state said. The recount in McPherson and Cloud counties remained unofficial, but Johnson’s campaign said results in those two counties would not change the primary result.

Johnson turned his attention to November’s run against Treasurer Lynn Rogers, a Democrat appointed by Governor Laura Kelly following the resignation of Republican Jake LaTurner, who now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We lost no ground waiting for all legally cast votes to be counted” Johnson aforementioned. “Our team set out knowing that this process could take weeks to complete.”

Johnson raised nearly $100,000 in the days after the primary, and his campaign manager urged Republicans to unite behind the GOP candidate.

“I want to thank my opponent for his willingness to run and for his continued service to this great state.” Johnson aforementioned. “I also want to thank my many volunteers and supporters who were critical in winning a close race where every voter contact counts. With our support base, we are well positioned to win the general election.”

‘Never give up the fight’

The state’s three largest counties are among those that conduct a manual recount of votes for abortion-related constitutional amendment.

Colby’s Melissa Leavitt requested a recount and sent $119,000 to cover the cost, with support from Wichita anti-abortion activist Mark Gietzen. A Christian-themed online fundraiser raised $52,000 to support the effort.

Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected the constitutional amendment that would end the right to terminate a pregnancy in Kansas. Leavitt said he hopes the recount, which is limited to nine counties, will provide information on electoral integrity.

As of Friday afternoon, three counties reported to the State Department that their census was complete. Each of these counties – Harvey, Jefferson and Lyon – reported a difference of one to four votes from the previous totals. Johnson, Sedgwick, and Shawnee counties, along with Crawford, Douglas, and Thomas counties, were still among those that counted by hand.

“Until now, not a single county has matched their original certified numbers,” Leavitt said in a TikTok video posted Friday. “So, that’s something we’re going to look at, but the truth is we’re getting some important and very valuable data from that coming in.”

Leavitt said she is still collecting donations and prayers.

“Never stop fighting,” he said.

Dennis Pyle and Kathleen Garrison watch as state election director Bryan Caskey examines signature files at the State Department in Topeka on Monday.  (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
State elections director Bryan Caskey examines signature files submitted by Dennis Pyle to the State Department in Topeka on August 1. Watch Pyle, right, and Kathleen Garrison. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

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Dennis Pyle’s petition to enter the ballot as an independent candidate for governor in the November election was not confirmed, in part because of recounts, State Department spokeswoman Whitney Tempel said.

Pyle submitted nearly 9,000 signatures that had to be reviewed by county officials in order to be on the ballot. The independent candidate must submit at least 5,000 signatures.

Tempel said 48 out of 105 counties have verified signatures. The Bureau hopes to complete the review before the State Inspection Board meeting on September 1.

Republicans are expected to contest the viability of Pyle’s petition. Any objections must be made within three days of the meeting of the Board of State Counselors.

Pyle runs for governor because he finds Republican candidate Derek Schmidt too liberal. Republicans fear that Pyle will win conservative votes that would otherwise go to Schmidt and facilitate the re-election of Democratic Government Laura Kelly.

In 2018, the State Department approved the petition, which was submitted within 11 days by independent candidate Greg Orman. Pyle delivered his autographs on August 1.

Pyle described the inconsistency in approving his petition as “big brother’s use of bully-style tactics.”

“Obviously the Secretary of State is acting in a liberal, loyal party fashion to delay, if not hinder, certification,” Pyle said. “They seem to be running a semi-organized operation on behalf of those objecting to the candidacy of Dennis Pyle, a true, freedom-loving Christian. It’s not that hard to check the list. It’s not rocket science.”

Tempel identified numerous differences between this year’s election cycle and the election cycle four years ago. State law now requires post-election audits in each county, and the closeness of the treasurer’s race required an audit of 10% of the vote in each county. Additionally, there were 24 counties that hand-counted for the treasure race, the abortion amendment, and the legislative race.

Pyle has also previously requested state inspectors to conduct a seven-month review of the 2020 elections.

Schwab said county officials “had been through a lot.”

“It’s a lot of work,” Schwab said. “My heart is content with our clerks. They do an incredible amount of work.”

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