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Archive for Saturday, August 2, 2003

3rd Congressional District field expands on GOP side

August 2, 2003

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— A second Republican has entered the race to challenge Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore next year in northeast Kansas' 3rd Congressional District.

Kris Kobach, 37, a law professor who spent the past two years working in Washington for the U.S. Justice Department, announced his candidacy Thursday at a rally outside the Johnson County Courthouse. The 3rd District comprises Johnson and Wyandotte counties and part of Douglas County, including part of Lawrence.

Kobach, who describes himself as a "common-sense conservative," will face at least one other candidate in next year's GOP primary -- Adam Taff, a former U.S. Navy pilot who was the 2002 Republican nominee.

Moore polled about 50 percent of the vote when defeating Taff last year and Phill Kline -- now the Kansas attorney general -- in 2000. Moore first won the seat in 1998 by defeating the Republican incumbent, Vince Snowbarger, with 52 percent of the vote.

A tenured professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, Kobach lives in Overland Park and served on the suburb's City Council from 1998-2001, when he accepted a one-year appointment as a White House Fellow in the Justice Department.

He remained with the department for an additional year, serving as counsel to Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, concentrating on immigration and border control issues. He returned to Kansas in early July and will resume teaching at the law school in the fall.

Kobach said his background would make him a stronger challenger to Moore than Taff proved to be as the Republican nominee in 2002. He said Taff "ran as hard as he could and gave it a good shot, but he wasn't quite able to make it.

"I think this next time around, we need a Republican who has experience working in the Bush administration and in government at the local level and in the judicial branch," Kobach said. "I can go head to head with Dennis Moore in terms of level of experience and knowledge of the issues."

Kobach said he was chiefly interested in "making changes so we can fight the war on terrorism more effectively.

"I've been fighting it within the Justice Department specifically by trying to keep foreign terrorists out of our country and remove aliens who are members of terrorist organizations," he said.

A native of Topeka, Kobach has a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, a law degree from Yale Law School and a doctorate in political science from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.

A Taff-Kobach contest for the nomination could reflect the moderate-conservative split in Kansas GOP politics.

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