Archive for Friday, July 30, 2010

Kobach brings attention to secretary of state race with immigration issue

July 30, 2010


— It's all about Kris Kobach.

The law professor who helped write Arizona's tough new immigration law is running for Kansas secretary of state. He promises to turn the state's top elections job — generally a government backwater that also handles business filings — into an aggressive, fraud-busting office.

He's a Republican, so he's drawn most of the attention in a three-person GOP race ahead of Tuesday's primary. And a big issue in the Democratic race is whether the incumbent secretary of state or a state senator would be more likely to beat Kobach.

Kobach has made the race one of the year's hottest in Kansas by tying illegal immigration to voter fraud. But is he getting the kind of attention that wins elections?

Even some Republicans who see his appeal to GOP conservatives don't think so. But he had the votes of Leroy and Jean Engle even before a recent forum at their Overland Park retirement community because of his work on immigration issues.

"Things are out of control, and we need to get control of it," Jean Engle said after the event.

In the GOP race, Kobach faces Shawnee County Election Commissioner Elizabeth Ensley, of Topeka, and J.R. Claeys, of Salina, a former chief executive officer of the National Association of Government Contractors who's monitored elections in Bolivia and El Salvador.

Secretary of State Chris Biggs faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from state Sen. Chris Steineger, of Kansas City. Biggs was appointed in March by Gov. Mark Parkinson, a fellow Democrat, after four-term Republican Ron Thornburgh resigned to take a private sector job.

The Democratic race has some color. Biggs, from Junction City, has a fondness for antique guitars and regularly played weekly gigs at a bar and grill outside Manhattan until his campaign activity picked up. Steineger, meanwhile, gained notoriety for attacking the escalating cost of the Statehouse renovation and proposing to merge Kansas' 105 counties down to 13.

Also, Claeys has raised eyebrows by dropping $300,000 of his own funds into his campaign, allowing him to outspend the other candidates. Asked where he got the money, he said, "I lived fairly modestly."

But Kobach operates on another plane altogether, sometimes dropping references to his appearances on national cable networks. He was late to the recent Overland Park forum because, after taping a segment for "NewsHour" on PBS, he got caught in traffic.

He's advised city and state lawmakers across the nation who want to crack down on illegal immigration. In mid-July, nearly 2,000 came to a rally he had in Overland Park with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Maricopa County, Ariz.

Kobach promises that, if elected, he'll pursue legislation to require voters to show photo identification at the polls and proof of citizenship when they register.

Kobach says Kansas laws are lax enough that illegal immigrants can register. Last year, the secretary of state's office found 33 potential matches when it ran its registration lists against the state database of driver's licenses for foreign nationals.

"I've been able to bring a very clear message to the campaign," Kobach said. "If I'm not concerned about voter fraud, then I don't have to vote for Kris Kobach."

The secretary of state's office said it runs its check every year to combat potential fraud and notifies counties of results. Kansas has 1.7 million registered voters.

The three Republican candidates agree voters should show a photo ID at the polls.

"There's always somebody out there who would take advantage of the situation if they could, so we need to protect our elections," Ensley said. "But I'm not going to use scare tactics about it."

Biggs doesn't like imposing a photo ID requirement, saying it is an overreaction to a handful of incidents.

"I know that Kris Kobach has received some attention, and a lot of it is negative attention," Biggs said.

Steineger said he doesn't have strong feelings about photo ID, having voted for a proposal in 2007.

"There are very few cases of voter fraud in Kansas," Steineger said.

The Engles' support for Kobach and the crowd he drew for his rally with Arpaio suggests his message has resonated with voters, and he has strong support among tea party participants.

But J. David Mattox, city forester in Manhattan, questioned whether immigration is the "real neon issue" for most voters that it is for Kobach's supporters.

"In this part of the world, we've got a lot of other issues," Mattox said, after telling Biggs at a recent concert-fundraiser, "Where do I donate?"

Kobach also faces questions about why he's running for secretary of state, as opposed to attorney general, the state's top law enforcement job.

He said he couldn't finish work on pending immigration cases if he were attorney general, because it would present a conflict of interest. He said he'll have enough time to wind down such cases and work full-time as secretary of state.

But his critics are skeptical. Kobach also served as Kansas GOP chairman in 2007-09, and the Federal Election Commission later audited the party over bookkeeping and finance reporting issues, which Kobach blamed on his top staffer at the time.

Claeys said the secretary of state's office has been run well, which is why it never has generated much attention.

"That's part of the challenge: A lot of people don't know what the secretary of state does," he said. "The second it's run poorly, you're going to hear all about this office."


blindrabbit 3 years, 8 months ago

Sieg Heil Herr Kobach! Maybe you can adapt some of the old Nazi themes:

"Night of the Long Knives" Turned into rough treatment of illegal aliens.

"Kristalnacht"--- Becomes rough treatment for those hiring illegals

"Book Burnings"-- The implementation of teaching Creationist Concepts as well as other Right-Wing dogma and doctrine

I'm sure you, Brownback will have us goosestepping to your cantations


TrooGrit 3 years, 8 months ago

Kobach is a hero. He wants to enforce our laws. All of you who think otherwise, can go suck toad toes. You'd enjoy that anyway. Keep the filth from south of our borders south of our borders. Murders, corruption, gun running, drugs, etc. That's what they bring to us, besides cheap labor that takes jobs from us. Wake up.


TrooGrit 3 years, 8 months ago

Bea is the new "venerial warts". She won't go away, and she embarasses everyone around her, she can't go nude in front of company, and her dumbocrat friends don't even want to discuss her illegal nanny!


beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

"Illegal immigration" is the new "gay marriage."

Why do Republicans always run on one social cause after another? First it was "burning the flag," then it was "abortion," then it was "gay marriage," and now, "illegal immigration." If you really believe the Republicans will be the ones to stop illegal immigration, just ask yourself" What exactly did Republicans do to stop illegals from entering the border during the last decade when they were in charge?

My goodness, Republicans rely on the gullible.


edjayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm still waiting Kris on what you are going to do with businesses who knowingly hire illegals. Build a bigger fence? Illegals wouldn't be coming here if they knew there were no jobs, legal or illegal.


Machiavelli_mania 3 years, 8 months ago

And let's also remember who was here before western civilization expanded and pulled their dubious practices in this continent.

Let's not forget the small-laden blankets and the dominance and near-extermination of the natives here.

What goes around, comes around.


Machiavelli_mania 3 years, 8 months ago

But Kobach lies. Outright lies to people.


He ran the KS GOP finances into the ground. Fund raising was tough. I would have donated to the KS GOP if they had given up the pro-life stance. They didn't. So they didn't get my money.


LJ Whirled 3 years, 8 months ago

We need to end the quasi-slavery that exists by non-enforcement of immigration laws. We have a subclass of people, living in the shadows, who are not expected to obey the law and are not given equal protection of law. They accept it because they are desperate; we cannot accept it, because we are America.

No, the Kansas secretary of state race is not really where this debate belongs, but the Federal Government will not address it, because various interests are manipulating the situation to their political and/or financial advantage, and have no interest in seeing the issue resolved. So, the debate pops up in places where it doesn't belong and cannot be resolved, because we are not willing to force the Feds to step up and deal with it.


ibroke 3 years, 8 months ago

I am going to vote for kobach because he did very good work on the Arizona law


puddleglum 3 years, 8 months ago

KKKobach is the MAN!

I should have solicited him as a running mate in my quest for governor.

Vote for Puddleglum and KKKobach! still better than Brownback

welcome to kansas, you may get sterilized, but as long as you have your ID handy, we won't throw you out!

c;mon folks, help me think of some other good slogans


Richard Payton 3 years, 8 months ago

Elizabeth Ensley has worked 18 years in the Secretary of State office. The Kansas City Star has said she is the clear choice but Kobach stands in her way.


sputum 3 years, 8 months ago

I voted (early) in the primary for the singe reason of voting for Kris Kobach. Someone needs to stop the influx of bums and freeloaders that are draining our economy.


Kontum1972 3 years, 8 months ago

so what kind of name is Kobach?


Roadkill_Rob 3 years, 8 months ago

Kansan Kris Kobach. Vote for KKK and that's what you'll get.


RATM 3 years, 8 months ago

...Says the anonymous internet poster.

Kobach is a Kansas hero. Thanks for all your work.


lounger 3 years, 8 months ago

This scary man needs to crawl under a rock and not come back out.


coldplay 3 years, 8 months ago

This voter fraud shyte makes me laugh. Yeah, huge problem in Kansas. The fraud is the candidate in this instance.


fuku 3 years, 8 months ago

No mention that Kobach panders to the birther movement. sigh


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