Kansas voters to decide whether to promote Kris Kobach

Published 11-06-2018

0 Ratings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas voters were deciding Tuesday whether to promote to governor Kris Kobach, a strong ally of President Donald Trump, who wants to crack down on immigrants living in the state illegally and resume conservative tax-cutting policies that critics labeled a failure.

Republican Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, says if elected he would go back to cutting taxes - reminding his critics of unpopular former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback - while also slashing state spending. Trump endorsed him, and that helped Kobach with some Republican voters.

"I voted straight Republican," said Larry Barnes, an 81-year-old retired Goodyear worker from Topeka, adding that he wanted to show his approval for Trump.

Kobach's Democratic opponent, state Sen. Laura Kelly, has made her opposition to the ill-fated 2012-13 experiment in slashing state income taxes the centerpiece of her campaign. She was part of a bipartisan effort in 2017 that reversed most of the tax cuts to drag state finances out of a gaping hole.

Kelly's message that the state is recovering and should not risk returning to tax-cutting resonated with Chris Delong, a 27-year-old electrician from Topeka, who is unaffiliated, and he voted against Kobach.

"It seemed like most of his political views were kind of similar to Sam Brownback's," Delong said. "Maybe a little change would help."

A wild card in the race is Independent candidate Greg Orman, a Kansas City-area businessman, who Democrats fear could take enough votes from Kelly to hand the election to Kobach.

Kansas is considered a deep red state with party registration 44 percent Republican and 25 percent Democratic. But its dominant Republican Party sometimes splits between moderates and conservatives, leaving an opening for a Democrat to peel off disaffected GOP voters. In recent decades the state has alternated between Republican and Democratic governors.

That GOP rift emerged this year with the nomination of Kobach, who has concentrated on motivating his conservative base rather than wooing moderate voters.

Kobach has built a national profile as an advocate of tough immigration policies and strict voter identification laws. He has advised Trump and served as vice chairman of Trump's since-disbanded commission on voter fraud. He narrowly defeated Gov. Jeff Colyer in the GOP primary in August after Trump ignored some of his advisers an

A wild card in the race is Independent candidate Greg Orman, a Kansas City-area businessman, who Democrats fear could take enough votes from Kelly to hand the election to Kobach.

Kansas is considered a deep red state with party registration 44 percent Republican and 25 percent Democratic. But its dominant Republican Party sometimes splits between moderates and conservatives, leaving an opening for a Democrat to peel off disaffected GOP voters. In recent decades the state has alternated between Republican and Democratic governors.

That GOP rift emerged this year with the nomination of Kobach, who has concentrated on motivating his conservative base rather than wooing moderate voters.

Kobach has built a national profile as an advocate of tough immigration policies and strict voter identification laws. He has advised Trump and served as vice chairman of Trump's since-disbanded commission on voter fraud. He narrowly defeated Gov. Jeff Colyer in the GOP primary in August after Trump ignored some of his advisers and tweeted an endorsement of Kobach.

Trump carried the state by 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential race and had a rally to help Kobach's campaign in October. Donald Trump Jr. had two fundraising events for him.

Kobach delights in provoking critics with stunts such as using a red-white-and-blue jeep with a replica machine gun mounted on top in community parades to emphasize his support for the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.

He has bristled at Kelly's attempt to tie him to the painful experiences from Brownback's tax-cutting experiment, saying his plan to shrink government would make the books balance.

Kelly wants to increase spending, not reduce it, saying more money is needed for higher education, early childhood education and mental health services.

She also embraced a plan this year from the Legislature to phase in a $548 million increase in spe

That GOP rift emerged this year with the nomination of Kobach, who has concentrated on motivating his conservative base rather than wooing moderate voters.

Kobach has built a national profile as an advocate of tough immigration policies and strict voter identification laws. He has advised Trump and served as vice chairman of Trump's since-disbanded commission on voter fraud. He narrowly defeated Gov. Jeff Colyer in the GOP primary in August after Trump ignored some of his advisers and tweeted an endorsement of Kobach.

Trump carried the state by 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential race and had a rally to help Kobach's campaign in October. Donald Trump Jr. had two fundraising events for him.

Kobach delights in provoking critics with stunts such as using a red-white-and-blue jeep with a replica machine gun mounted on top in community parades to emphasize his support for the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.

He has bristled at Kelly's attempt to tie him to the painful experiences from Brownback's tax-cutting experiment, saying his plan to shrink government would make the books balance.

Kelly wants to increase spending, not reduce it, saying more money is needed for higher education, early childhood education and mental health services.

She also embraced a plan this year from the Legislature to phase in a $548 million increase in spending on public schools in response to Kansas Supreme Court decisions in an education funding lawsuit filed in 2010. Kobach criticized the court and suggested that lawmakers had paid a "king's ransom" to comply with the court order.

Like Trump, Kobach has stressed immigration issues in the run-up to the election. He wants policies designed to push immigrants living in Kansas illegally out of the state.

Laura Bodenhamer, a 77-year-old retiree who worked in banking and a Republican from Topeka, said she saw both Kobach and Kelly as "really good people," but voted for Kobach partly because, "I really go along with securing the border."

Kelly said Kobach's immigration policies would hurt the state's economy, particularly in western Kansas, which depends on immigrant workers for the meatpacking industry.

Ellie Smith, a 24-year-old Democrat, stay-at-home mom and musician from Topeka, said Kobach's positions on immigration "hurts my heart."

"I believe that everybody belongs here," she said.

___

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .

___

For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

No comments found. Sign up or Login to rate and review content.