Topeka Democratic Secretary of State Chris Biggs took a jab Thursday at his Republican opponent, signing a pledge to work full-time in his government job if Kansas voters elect him in November.
Biggs said he is trying to make a point about Republican nominee Kris Kobach's work on immigration issues, which Kobach says he would keep doing as secretary of state, and his intent to expand the scope of the office.
"This office may not be as glamorous as what Kris Kobach might prefer, but it performs important public services that require a proven public servant, not a politician," Biggs said.
Kobach, a Kansas City-area law professor and former Kansas GOP chairman, has built a reputation for advising city officials and legislators in other states about cracking down on illegal immigration.
He helped write the new Arizona law that empowers police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. He has also helped city officials in Fremont, Neb., with an immigration ordinance and has offered to defend it in court for free.
Kobach said his first priority would be Kansas residents and he will work "40 to 50 hours at least" as a full-time secretary of state. He said he planned to still handle some immigration work across the country but most of it could be done at night or on weekends.
"This is really a question of spare time. Some people golf in their spare time, I defend American sovereignty," Kobach said.
Ben Davis, Kobach's campaign spokesman, said Biggs was making a "ridiculous argument" out of nothing and that if Kobach can't practice immigration law then Biggs should forgo his hobby of playing banjo.
"I don't want to see him at any bluegrass festivals," Davis said.
Biggs spokesman Tyler Longpine said the interests were not comparable.
"He's out of touch if he thinks those two things are on the same scale," Longpine said. "When he's playing the banjo, he's not representing other municipalities and other states."
The Biggs campaign said the fact that Kobach would be unavailable for an early October forum on Topeka public television station KTWU showed that he was putting his "personal agenda" ahead of his campaign and would do the same in office.
Kobach confirmed that a proposed forum Oct. 5 would conflict with his legal schedule. He will be in the California Supreme Court arguing against the state's law granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Kobach has accused Biggs and his predecessors of ignoring problems with voter fraud and would like to expand the powers of the office to investigate and file charges. Kobach also wants to institute wider use of photo identification at the polls and verification of citizenship as condition for registering to vote.
Biggs is seeking a full term after being appointed to the post in March by Democrat Gov. Mark Parkinson. He replaced Republican Ron Thornburgh, who resigned to enter the private sector.