Trump's Kobach endorsement could cost the GOP a governor's race in red Kansas

President Donald Trump endorsed Kris Kobach ahead of Tuesday's Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary. The ...

Posted: Aug 7, 2018 8:04 AM
Updated: Aug 7, 2018 8:04 AM

President Donald Trump endorsed Kris Kobach ahead of Tuesday's Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary. The endorsement doesn't come as a surprise, but should Kobach win, it could cost the Republican Party a governor's seat in deep red Kansas.

Why?

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Election fraud

Election results

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Governors

Gubernatorial races

Heads of government

Kansas

Kris Kobach

Midwestern United States

North America

Political corruption

Political endorsements

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

Sam Brownback

State elections

The Americas

United States

US Democratic Party

US federal government

US political parties

US Republican Party

White House

To start, Kobach, who is Kansas' secretary of state, is mired in controversy.

He served as vice chairman of Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was set up after the President repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud occurred in the 2016 election. The group's supposed aim was to investigate voter fraud, but it never presented any evidence to support the President's claims. It was eventually shutdown.

Last week, a former member of the panel, Maine's Democratic secretary of state Matthew Dunlap, wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kobach saying he had "reviewed the Commission documents made available to me and they do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud."

ProPublica and the Kansas City Star have also reported that Kobach sold himself as an attorney who would write laws aimed at combating illegal immigration for towns and defended them in court for a substantial fee. Many of those of municipalities lost in court, but Kobach made off with a lot of money, according to the reports. Kobach has disputed some of the characterizations in the article.

Now, Kobach is running for governor of Kansas. Oddly enough, Democrats are welcoming this news and hoping Kobach defeats current Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer in Tuesday's primary. Polls give Kobach a slight edge.

Why would Democrats be rooting for Kobach? He's uniquely positioned to allow a Democrat to win the general election in November.

General election polling has been limited in the Sunflower state. The one poll that has been published, however, shows Kobach down by a point to potential Democratic nominee Laura Kelly. (Colyer was ahead of her by 10 points in the same poll.) The survey was conducted by Remington Research Group (a GOP aligned group) and does not meet CNN's standards because it didn't use live interviewers for all of its respondents.

The idea Kobach is in trouble in a general election is backed up by other data-points. Kobach is one of the least popular politicians in Kansas. A spring 2018 poll from Fort Hays State University, which only used live interviewers, found that Kobach had a net favorability rating of -17 percentage points. Colyer, on the other hand, broke far closer to an even score. Indeed, no one else in the poll besides Kobach was anywhere close to such a negative score.

It's important to note that Kansas is a very Republican state on the federal level. It voted for Trump by over 20 points. It last elected a Democrat to the Senate in 1932.

Trump though isn't so popular in Kansas right now. Gallup's polling over 2017 showed him with an approval rating under 50%.

Additionally, Democrats have much more success in non-federal statewide elections in Kansas.

The state has a history of electing Democratic governors. Kathleen Sebelius won two terms as governor in the 2000s. Joan Finney won a term in the 1990s before that. John Carlin served two-terms in the 1970s and 1980s.

Just four years ago, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback was barely reelected. He won by only 4 percentage points in a year in which Republicans romped nationwide. Brownback suffered at the ballot box because of an aggressive tax plan that ended up draining the state's coffers.

Brownback's budget policies made him one of the least popular governors in the nation by the time he left office to take a job in the Trump administration. Kobach wants to restore that tax plan, which was repealed by the Republican-run state legislature over Brownback's veto.

In this way, Kobach is setting the table for what has typically been the playbook for Democratic success in Kansas. There are in essence three political parties in the state. There's a conservative Republican Party (of which Kobach is part of), a more moderate Republican Party and a Democratic Party. Democrats can win statewide when Republicans nominate conservatives, which allows the Democratic nominee to take off a chunk of the moderate Republicans (It's how Sebelius won a first term in 2002).

Democrats, though, are in a way facing their own division: the candidacy of independent Greg Orman. He could take votes away from whomever wins the Democratic nomination.

Political watchers may recognize Orman from his bid for the US Senate in 2014. In that campaign, he got Democrat Chad Taylor to drop out of the race. That seems far less likely to occur this time around.

Despite far higher name recognition than Kelly, Orman barely broke double-digits in the Remington poll.

Of course, we're getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. First, we need to see if Kobach actually wins the nomination on Tuesday.

If he does, it's likely that Kansas will be home to one of the most competitive gubernatorial elections this fall.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6979155
DeSoto542555
Harrison374372
Jackson339967
Madison321286
Rankin319375
Lee261067
Jones242778
Forrest239570
Washington218171
Lafayette209239
Lauderdale2007124
Bolivar179565
Oktibbeha175450
Lamar163534
Neshoba1540103
Panola144527
Sunflower142144
Lowndes140357
Warren138150
Leflore137080
Pontotoc123616
Pike121348
Monroe118965
Scott116425
Copiah116333
Coahoma112827
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106853
Grenada106235
Yazoo103929
Simpson101443
Union97824
Tate95537
Leake94037
Adams92136
Wayne87721
Pearl River86750
Marion84133
Prentiss81517
Covington80922
Alcorn77511
Itawamba77021
Newton75923
Tallahatchie75718
George75113
Winston72519
Tishomingo66137
Chickasaw65624
Tippah64516
Attala64125
Walthall59425
Clay58117
Hancock56421
Jasper55515
Noxubee54315
Clarke53739
Smith52414
Calhoun50612
Tunica48113
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41814
Perry40918
Quitman3755
Humphreys37315
Stone35711
Greene34617
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32811
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2439
Benton2201
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Columbus
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather