Umbehr gets Libertarian nod for governor

By Brady Bauman

Alma attorney and jack-of-all trades Keen Umbehr says he’s excited to represent the Libertarian Party in the Kansas gubernatorial race.

Umbehr recently was named the party’s nominee.

Now, he plans to face Republican incumbent Sam Brownback.

“As your governor, I will uphold the Constitution, preserve your civil liberties, provide equal treatment under the law and promote government transparency and accountability while reducing its size and scope,” Umbehr said in a press release.

Umbehr was born in Great Bend, and his father’s job in the oil industry took him all over the world.

Over the years, he has owned a restaurant and a car wash, and he was the owner-operator of a trash-hauling company for 17 years in Wabaunsee County.

Umbehr made news when he challenged the decision of his county commissioners to terminate a contract with his trash business in 1991. He held that terminating his contract because he spoke out against the county government was an unconstitutional attack on his 1st Amendment Rights. That challenge went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996, where it established the precedent that government contractors have whistleblower protection just as do government employees.

Two years after his Supreme Court victory, at the age of 40, Umbehr sold his trash company and returned to college at Kansas State University to finish his bachelor’s degree. He then continued his education and graduated from the Washburn University School of Law in May of 2005.

In one of his higher profile cases, Umbehr exposed the sexual exploitation of female inmates at the Topeka Correctional Facility in 2009.

Umbehr said he’s courting not only Libertarians and unaffiliated voters but also those who are traditional Republicans and Democrats.

Umbehr attended both the Democratic and Republican state conventions this year.

He has established a campaign office in Alma with a growing campaign staff, he said, and is actively fundraising for the Keen for Kansas campaign.

Umbehr said he plans to visit all 105 Kansas counties during his campaign.

“The Keen for Kansas campaign is going to make history when our team establishes the Libertarian Party as the third major political party in Kansas,” he said in the release. “I’m not afraid of hard work and everyone who knows me understands that I have never backed down from a fight for liberty; this election is a fight for liberty.”

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