Topeka Kris Kobach on Tuesday rode a national furor over illegal immigration to victory in the Republican Party primary for secretary of state. He will face incumbent Secretary of State Chris Biggs, who fended off a challenge in the Democratic primary.
Kobach, who helped write the controversial Arizona law that has sparked numerous protests, defeated J.R. Claeys, a Salina consultant, and longtime Shawnee County Election Commissioner Elizabeth “Libby” Ensley, who had the backing of many establishment Republican politicians.
In late returns Kobach had both statewide and in Douglas County more than half of the GOP vote, while Ensley and Claeys split the rest.
Kobach, a constitutional law professor and former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, has gained notoriety for championing anti illegal immigration laws and lawsuits in various states.
He says if elected, he will work 40 to 50 hours a week as secretary of state, and then on his own time continue legal battles over immigration.
He said he will push for laws that would require Kansans to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote, and proving U.S. citizenship before registering to vote. He said both proposals are needed to stop election fraud, which he described as a big problem in Kansas.
“Ultimately, this is about election fraud,” he said.“Regardless of what your political point of view is ... people want security and assurance that the election result was a valid result, and that nobody stole the election.”
In the Democratic primary, Biggs was defeating state Sen. Chris Steineger of Kansas City, 60 percent to 40 percent statewide and in Douglas County.
"My entire professional career has been dedicated to public service, and as Secretary of State, I am committed to protecting consumers, ensuring fair, open, and secure elections, and improving the efficiency and accessibility of the office,” Biggs said.
He said he looked forward to debating the “issues pertinent to the office.” Biggs has said that while voter fraud has occurred in isolated instances, it is not a widespread problem in Kansas.
Biggs was appointed secretary of state in March by Gov. Mark Parkinson to replace Ron Thornburgh, a Republican who left to take a job in the private sector.
Steineger, a legislator for the past 13 years, jumped into the race touting his independent streak. But several Democratic leaders said he was more like a loose cannon, supporting anti-tax groups such as Americans for Prosperity, and that he was weakened politically by a recent $5,000 fine for a campaign finance violation.
Prior to his appointment, Biggs had served as Kansas securities commissioner for seven years and before that was Geary County prosecutor.
Also on the Nov. 2 ballot will be Libertarian Phillip Horatio Lucas and the Reform Party’s Derek Langseth.
10:50 p.m. update
Chris Biggs owns 40,693 total votes as of 10:50 p.m., still good for 60 percent.
Kris Kobach now has 132,669 votes, which is 53 percent.
10:30 p.m. update
Chris Biggs (D) has been nominated as candidate for Secretary of State. He was announced the winner over Chris Steineger with 60 percent of votes and 2,113 of 3,316 precincts reporting as of 10:30 p.m.
10:17 p.m. update
Kris Kobach, GOP, has been nominated as the Secretary of State candidate with 54 percent of the vote and 1,998 of 3,316 precincts reporting. His Democratic opponent has yet to be determined, however Chris Biggs leads Chris Steineger, 37,365-25,257, which is 60 percent of votes.
10:02 p.m. update
Biggs owns 62 percent of votes over Steineger with 1,461 of 3,316 of precincts reporting.
Kobach maintains 49 percent of votes over her competitors.
9:49 p.m. update
Biggs holds 28,117 votes over Steineger's 17,436 as of 9:50 p.m. with 1,259 of 3,316 precincts reporting.
Kobach has 76,046 votes for 49 percent of the vote. Ensley has 44,159 votes and Claeys 35,456.
9:27 p.m. update
Biggs has 23,388 votes, good for 61 percent over Steineger's 14,943.
Kobach has 65,595 votes for 51 percent over Ensley's 35,966 (28%) and Claeys' 27,070 (21%).
9:09 p.m. update
Biggs (16,490) maintains lead over Steineger (10,684) with 61 percent of votes with 489 of 3,316 precincts reporting.
Kobach (46,502) continues to lead Republicans with 52 percent of votes. Ensley (30,413) has 29 percent and Claeys (18,905) 19 percent.
8:56 p.m. update
Biggs increases lead on Steineger with 62 percent of the vote and 415 of 3,316 precincts reporting.
8:37 p.m. update
Biggs continues to lead Steineger, 8,543-5,378, with 183 of 3,316 precincts. That's good for 61 percent of the vote.
Kobach has 24,750 votes, or 52 percent of the vote, leading Ensley (15,560) and Claeys (7,320).
Find detailed candidate profiles, campaign finance information and complete election coverage in our Election Guide.
8:25 p.m. update
Biggs holds 57 percent of the vote with 126 of 3,316 precincts reporting. He leads Steineger 5,553-4,151.
8:18 p.m. update
Biggs increases lead on Steineger, 4,581-3,659.
Kris Kobach continues to lead Ensley and Claeys with 18,028 votes. Ensley has 10,692 and Claeys 3,616 .
8:11 p.m. update
Biggs maintains his lead over Steineger, 4,475-3,606.
7:34 p.m. update
Early numbers show Chris Biggs with a lead on Chris Steineger. Biggs currently has 69.4 percent of the vote.
Kris Kobach is leading candidates Elizabeth Ensley and J.R. Claeys. Kobach has 49.2 percent to Ensley's 42.5 percent and Claeys' 8.4 percent.