Topeka Kris Kobach's political future depends on whether voters in Tuesday's primary election in Kansas see illegal immigration as an issue for the state's top elections official to tackle.
Kobach, a Kansas City-area law professor, helped write Arizona's new law on illegal immigration. He's linked the issue to combatting voter fraud in Kansas as he seeks the Republican nomination for secretary of state.
His campaign has created intense interest in a race that usually doesn't receive much attention. Republican voters also were expected to ratify U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback's status as their nominee for governor, and they were settling races for insurance commissioner and attorney general.
The only Democratic primary for a statewide office was for secretary of state, where appointed incumbent Chris Biggs, of Junction City, faced state Sen. Chris Steineger, of Kansas City. The Democratic Party's establishment was backing Biggs.
But Kobach has received by far the most attention. In his GOP race, he faces Shawnee County Election Commissioner Elizabeth Ensley and J.R. Claeys, of Salina, a former chief executive officer of the National Association of Government Contractors.
All three GOP candidates support requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Kobach also would require Kansans to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote for the first time.
But such issues have been overshadowed by Kobach's notoriety as an adviser to city officials and state legislators across the nation who want to crack down on illegal immigration.
He's said that if he's elected, he'll work as secretary of state between 40 and 50 hours a week, then spend an additional 20 hours on immigration issues.
"Some people golf in their spare time," Kobach said last week. "I defend American sovereignty."
Claeys was skeptical enough to demand that his opponents sign a pledge to a full-time secretary of state. Neither did, though Ensley also criticized Kobach over the issue.
Biggs has held the job since March, when Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson named him to replace four-term incumbent Ron Thornburgh, who resigned to take a private sector job.
Biggs had the endorsements of Parkinson and the Legislature's top two Democrats. Also, Steineger was fined $5,000 this spring by the state ethics commission for a campaign finance violation.
Meanwhile, Brownback, from Topeka, was expected to have little trouble in his GOP primary race overcoming Joan Heffington, of Derby, a former home builder and retired Boeing purchasing agent. Heffington promised that if elected, she'd put every bill reaching her desk through a biblical test and public poll.
The lone Democratic candidate for governor is state Sen. Tom Holland, of Baldwin City.
The insurance commissioner's race will be settled by the Republican primary, because no other parties have candidates. Incumbent Sandy Praeger, who's seeking a third term, faces Dave Powell, an El Dorado insurance agent who's a tea party favorite.
Republicans expected Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, of Independence, to defeat Junction City prosecutor Ralph DeZago, in their attorney general's primary. The winner will face Attorney General Steve Six, who has no opposition on the Democratic side.
In the state treasurer's race, neither Democratic incumbent Dennis McKinney, of Greensburg, nor GOP challenger Ron Estes, of Wichita, the Sedgwick County treasurer, had primary opponents.