Former Naval Officer Running For Kansas 2Nd Seat In Congress

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former U.S. Navy intelligence officer is running as a Democrat for Congress in eastern Kansas.

Patrick Schmidt, 30, announced his candidacy Tuesday and is the first Democrat seeking to challenge freshman Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner in the 2nd District in 2022, The Kansas City Star reports.

Schmidt's campaign finance director, Jon Ediger, said the candidate moved to Topeka after leaving active duty military service earlier this year. Schmidt grew up in Johnson County outside the district, but five generations of his family lived in Pittsburg in the district's southeast corner, Ediger said.

Schmidt said he wants to make health care and education more affordable. His website details financial struggles his family faced because of educational costs and his late father's chronic illness.

“Instead of investing in our future and rebuilding our economy, we are divided by partisan bickering," Schmidt said in a statement.

LaTurner, raised in Galena in southeast Kansas, is a 33-year-old former state senator and state treasurer. After winning his congressional seat relatively easily in 2020, he's been a reliable conservative Republican vote.

LaTurner campaign spokesperson Braden Dreiling took a dig at Schmidt for so recently moving to Topeka.

"We’re happy to recommend a good realtor if that’s helpful,” Dreiling said.