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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?

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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

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Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
Copiah58016
Leake56519
Jackson55716
Holmes53641
Wayne52212
Lee51816
Oktibbeha51625
Washington5129
Yazoo4786
Leflore47449
Warren46317
Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
Grenada3965
Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
Sunflower3216
Covington3175
Bolivar29813
Panola2956
Adams28018
Simpson2713
Chickasaw26418
Tate2648
Marion26311
Pontotoc2616
Jasper2516
Noxubee2478
Pearl River24532
Clay24410
Winston2446
Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 39604

Reported Deaths: 961
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
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Fayette671
Clay612
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