In this Thursday, July 5, 2018, photo, Joshua Svaty, a Democratic candidate for Kansas governor, makes a point during a forum in Topeka, Kan. Svaty is a former state agriculture secretary whose bid has been complicated by his past anti-abortion voting record as a legislator and abortion-rights' supporters becoming riled up by the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Kansas Democratic governor hopeful criticized on abortion

July 06, 2018 - 4:11 pm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement is giving the Kansas governor's race an odd twist.

It's complicating the bid by a major Democratic candidate who's trying to rebuild his party's brand with rural voters but is hindered by his anti-abortion past.

Former state Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty argues that Democrats can't break an eight-year losing streak in all statewide races without pulling more votes from strongly Republican rural areas.

But he could have trouble winning the Aug. 7 primary because abortion-rights advocates are energized and Svaty voted consistently for anti-abortion measures as a Kansas House member.

Svaty has tried to woo liberal Democrats by pledging to veto any new abortion restrictions if he's elected governor. But he's facing two major rivals taking strong abortion-rights stances.