Topeka Republican candidate for secretary of state Kris Kobach is adding “popular initiative” to his to-do list if elected.
“It’s time to give the people of Kansas control over what goes on the ballot,” Kobach said during a news conference Tuesday on the Statehouse grounds.
Kobach said that he will push for a measure that will give Kansans the right through petitions to force public votes on state laws and constitutional changes without having to go through the Legislature.
Kobach faces Shawnee County Election Commissioner Elizabeth “Libby” Ensley and J.R. Claeys of Salina, an independent consultant, in the GOP primary.
Twenty-six states, including all of Kansas’ bordering states, have ways for voters to put issues on the ballot.
Kobach said he believes the referendums would lead to lower taxes, break legislative deadlocks and increase voter participation.
He said he would like to see initiatives placed on the ballot that would make it more difficult for the Legislature to approve tax increases, limit growth in property value appraisals, and change the way state appellate judges are picked.
Kobach has also come out in favor of requiring photo ID to vote, proof of citizenship to register to vote, and increasing the powers of the secretary of state’s office in voting fraud cases.
Asked why he was bringing up the initiative issue for the first time just one week before the Aug. 3 primary, Kobach said this was a good time because people are getting focused on campaigns.
His primary opponents didn’t think much of Kobach’s announcement.
Claeys said he also supported giving voters a bigger say in government, but said Kobach lacked the leadership or management skills to push the proposal through the Legislature.
Kobach, who co-wrote the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law called SB 1070, has become a national figure in the immigration debate. He also has been under fire after a recent Federal Elections Commission audit criticized financial dealings of the Kansas Republican Party when Kobach was its chairman. Kobach has blamed the party’s former executive director, who has denied wrongdoing and blamed Kobach.
Asked to respond to Kobach’s voter initiative proposal, Ensley’s campaign manager, Jesse Borjon said, “This is just another attempt by Libby’s opponent to grow government and deflect attention away from the financial mess he’s created for the Republican Party.”
The winner of the Republican contest will advance to the November general election to face the winner of the Democratic Party primary between Secretary of State Chris Biggs and state Sen. Chris Steineger of Kansas City. Phillip Horatio Lucas of El Dorado is the Libertarian candidate, and Derek Langseth of Valley Center is the Reform Party candidate.