Kelly is state’s oldest governor — again

By The Active Age | December 1, 2022

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly talks with Derby artist Skip Kreibach during an Art is Ageless event earlier this year.

Kansas voters don’t appear to hold a little life experience against candidates.

In contrast to the national political scene, where concerns about President Biden’s age have been raised, Kansas voters last month made Laura Kelly, 72, the oldest person ever elected governor of the state.

The state’s second-oldest governor? Kelly, when she was first elected four years ago.

Although Kelly’s opponent, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, made plenty of attacks related to Kelly’s politics, he and other Republicans apparently never mentioned her age, according to a search of newspaper articles written during the campaign.

Kelly will turn 73 shortly after being sworn in next year. She was born in New York City on Jan. 24, 1950.

Most Kansas governors have ranged in age from their mid-40s to mid-50s, although five of the state’s first six governors were in their 30s. The state’s youngest governor, Nehemiah Green, was 31 when he ascended from the lieutenant governor’s office in 1868 to fill his predecessor’s unexpired term.

After Kelly, the state’s oldest governor was its first female chief executive, Joan Finney, who was 66 when she assumed office in 1991.

Biden, 79, has been prone to verbal gaffes and a sometimes faulty memory, two traits not associated with Kelly.

Kelly isn’t the nation’s oldest governor. That distinction goes to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, 78, re-elected last month with 67 percent of her state’s vote. Other septuagenarians occupying
gubernatorial mansions include Henry McMaster of South Carolina, who’s 75; and Janet Mills of Maine, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, all of whom are 74.