Archive for Monday, November 20, 2017

Kansas open to moderates after Brownback era? Many still see ‘ultra-conservative’ Kobach as front-runner for governor

In this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 photo, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach answers questions about his run for the Republican nomination for governor during an interview at the Johnson County Republican Party's headquarters in Overland Park, Kan. Kobach is the leading Kansas for governor because of his solid base on the right and his national visibility. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

In this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 photo, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach answers questions about his run for the Republican nomination for governor during an interview at the Johnson County Republican Party's headquarters in Overland Park, Kan. Kobach is the leading Kansas for governor because of his solid base on the right and his national visibility. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

November 20, 2017


— If you thought Kansas emerged from its long budget crisis to reject deep-red politics and move back toward the center, think again.

A year ago, many voters concluded that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's experiment in cutting income taxes had ended in failure, opening the door to a more moderate agenda. But now an even more aggressively conservative figure could win next year's race for governor.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Harvard-, Yale- and Oxford-educated lawyer, leads a large field of likely candidates after building a national reputation as hardline provocateur on immigration and voter ID laws. His visibility rose sharply after President Donald Trump appointed him to help lead a commission on election fraud.

"People know who I am," he declared during a recent interview. "I don't have to spend a lot of time and money explaining what my position is or what my brand is."

Although the election is still a year away, Kobach's many critics wonder whether he can be stopped, citing his political skills, his name recognition and his loyal base of supporters.

It's a remarkable scenario for a state supposedly weary of ideological drama. Until recently, many observers were betting that Kansas would seek moderation — not the most explosive conservative option available.

The state's recent financial woes offered a warning about how not to practice trickle-down economics. After Brownback persuaded the Republican-controlled Legislature to slash income taxes in 2012, Kansas struggled to balance its budget.

At the same time, the Legislature has been embroiled in a test of wills with a state Supreme Court that says school spending is unconstitutionally inadequate.

Voters last year ousted two dozen conservative lawmakers. Most of Brownback's tax cuts were rolled back this year with a $600 million-a-year tax hike.

Meanwhile, Kobach has become an icon to many Kansas conservatives.

Kobach first gained national attention more than a decade ago as a law professor who drafted state and local policies against illegal immigration, including Arizona's "show your papers" law. As Kansas' top elections official since 2011, he won passage of strict voter ID laws, which resulted in multiple voting-rights lawsuits.

During the presidential race, Kobach not only backed Trump's call to build a wall along the U.S-Mexican border but publicly outlined a plan for forcing Mexico to pay for it.

After the election, Kobach met with Trump and proposed a homeland security plan that included federal registration and "extreme vetting" for some immigrants and changes in federal voting laws to encourage state "proof of citizenship" requirements for new voters, like Kansas has.

He still has regular contact with the White House and was among the sources behind Trump's unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegal ballots kept the president from winning the popular vote. He's also a regular Breitbart News columnist.

Supporters describe Kobach as a fighter, and the square-jawed 51-year-old has the physical presence of a former heavyweight. He delivers comments in public about immigration and election fraud that outrage others with calm certitude. The words flow even when he's arguing on his feet.

He believes his strong stance on immigration plays well with blue-collar Democrats and independents, but he's running as an unabashed conservative, promising no "pivot" after the primary.

In his campaign, Kobach remains an abortion opponent and gun-rights advocate. He has excoriated this year's state tax increase, promised to cut government and declared that just because lawmakers appropriate tax dollars, a governor does not have to spend them.

With the state's GOP and Democratic Party fractured, the race could draw 20-some candidates.

Because Kansas has no runoffs, a Republican could win the nomination in a crowded primary with only a dedicated base of supporters. And Kobach's critics worry about independent and third-party candidates improving his chances of winning in November with less than a majority.

Kobach's biggest GOP challenger is Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who has been waiting to take over as governor since Trump nominated Brownback in July to be ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. But Colyer faces the challenge of separating himself from an unpopular administration.

Some Republicans tout former state Rep. Mark Hutton, the founder of a Wichita construction company and critic of Brownback tax policies.

Many of the rivals are attractive to voters unhappy with Brownback, like Jim Ruble, a Salina banker and Republican who argues that Kansas needs "pragmatism" and sees Kobach as too "ultra-conservative."

The problem, Ruble says, is the front-runner's political skills: "The guy's good."

Democrats' leading candidates are former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, former state Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty and Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward.

Many Democrats expect Kobach to be the GOP nominee and see him as the ideal foil after recent Democratic victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governor's races.

Brent Lockee, a Kansas City-area data scientist, called Kobach "not someone I trust." But he acknowledged that Kobach's status "gives him a pretty good chance of winning."

Democrats are split over how liberal their nominee must be on issues such as abortion to energize the party's base, and consultants and activists are waging a fierce and increasingly bitter feud over internal leadership disputes.

So for now, the race tilts Kobach's way.

"He definitely has a path to victory, and it definitely has to do with the numbers rather than necessarily what most people want," said state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a moderate Kansas City-area Republican. "It's exactly how we ended up with Trump."


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 5 months ago

Are Kansans really that stupid? Probably. People I know who have met Brownback and Kobach say they seem like nice guys. But so do any con men. We are paying Kobach to not do his job here in Kansas, but to work for Trump to try and find some phantom 3 million fake votes. I as a retired teacher can't go back to teaching, even though there is a teacher's shortage, because I would be double dipping. But Kobach is double dipping in our state tax dollars and our federal tax dollars. And he just didn't have the time to made sure and remind people of the election changes or to fix the glitches with the new ID cards. Why would anyone vote for him? Name recognition? Probably. He needs to go work for one of Trump's resorts.

Alex Landazuri 5 months ago

voters put brownback back in office when he was up for re election, of course they are that stupid. its very unfortunate.

Josh Berg 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes every Kansas voter except for the people of Lawrence are stupid. Give me a break. Maybe if Paul Davis had an ounce of moral character and was not caught during a drug bust in a strip club getting a lap dance then Brownback would have not won. Elections have consequences and votes matter but I hardly call anyone stupid for going out to vote. While I do not see Brownback as a problem, maybe it is time to stop blaming everyone else and look at yourself and your party.

Alex Landazuri 4 months, 4 weeks ago

so bankrupting kansas was ok? opening up its citizens to discrimination was ok? give me a break. i could care less if he was in a strip club, there are far worse things that could happen. the fact you cant see past the bs coming out of the brownback administration/koch brothers/alec/kpi would make it apparent that you are part of the problem here.

Josh Berg 4 months, 3 weeks ago

When did Brownback open up citizens to discrimination? When did Kansas go bankrupt? Yes we had a deficit but you all freaked out when Brownback tried to cut spending.

Greg Cooper 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Couple of instances, off the top of my head: would not allow immigrants to settle in Kansas, fights dreamer status, will not allow Medicaid expansion even though it affects mainly old and very young citizens. Just to start with.

Alex Landazuri 4 months, 3 weeks ago

then there was the removal of protection from discrimination for the LBGT community, or the fact he keeps trying to push his religious beliefs on others through his repeated attempts to outlaw abortion. but who cares about that pesky separation of church and state thing anyway...

Steve Jacob 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Well, the Dems did put up the most boring candidate ever.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Oh yes, Josh, moral character. And you elected the p***y grabber in chief.

And, Steve, the celebrity worshipper. They have to be entertaining, not qualified, right?

Josh Berg 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes I voted for the guy who talked about py grabbing as opposed to the wife of the guy who actually did the py grabbing. And I doubt the person who labels all conservatives evil should be giving advice on moral character. I would be willing to have a good conversation and talk about issues with you if you were not such a mean hearted lady.

Greg Cooper 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Hillary is not president, Josh. Non responsive to the discussion and a bald, failed attempt at "I know you are but what am I?".

Josh Berg 4 months, 3 weeks ago

My comment was in direct response to Dorothy's comment to me. I do not understand how I am non responsive to the discussion? It sure has been a while since I have seen you contribute anything to a post other than calling other people names.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 months, 3 weeks ago

You voted for the guy who bragged about walking into dressing rooms at pageants. And you have several women who said he did. He wasn't even talking about it, he did it.

Josh Berg 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I thought you liberals were okay with men in the women's changing room. At least LHS believes that is okay

Greg Cooper 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Really? What names have I called anyone, other than Brownkoch and Chump? Do you actually read my posts or just see my name and knee-jerk a reply?

Josh Berg 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Do you just butt into conversations that do not concern you all the time?

Daniel Kennamore 5 months ago

The only good thing about the stupidity of the majority of Kansas voters is we finally have a bonafide test case that shows that trickle-down economics is a sham.

I have full faith the state will continue the failed experiment into the next Governor's term as well.

Phillip Chappuie 5 months ago

John Prine told us that grandpa voted for Eisenhower because Lincoln won the war. I'm afraid that still carries in Kansas today. People vote against their own best interest and don't know they are doing just that. But hey, hope eternal. There are so many Repub candidates maybe a moderate can slip in.

Michael Kort 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I would never have imagined that the combined educational efforts of Harvard, Yale and Oxford could have created such a screw up human being !

This is a guy who has publicly called The League Of Women Voters and The ACLU to be communist groups .

Thank God that he never went to MIT or he might be working on a scientific weapon of mass destruction in his spare time to enhance his bigoted purposes .

The history of former Trump supporters has not been good as one after the other is sent packing for numerous reasons and others are dressed down in the press regularly . .

Obviously, if there were 3,000,000 fraudulent votes in our recent presidential election ( 1 out of 42 ) it would imply that more than 20,000 cast fraudulent votes here in Kansas.........SO WHERE'S THE BEEF ?

John Brazelton 4 months, 4 weeks ago

The posters tell you why Lawrence is the most liberal city in Kansas.

Jeffry Helms 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Hello-Mr. Kobach we went to school together when I was at at a orphanage-in topeka etc.--good to see your doing well- anyways-genetically-north eastern kansas-is in big trouble--with IM intra muscular steroids use--which swells up the male prostate and cause's cervical ovarian cancer that changes the human sex organ and human dna strand--which affects the unborn child---( and cause's anal sex and 90% std infection)-so genetically- our gene pool has been corrupted greatly globally-so in about more years of steroid use, north eastern kansas might be completely LGBT and transgender up to about 85% etc.. So we have alot of amphibian and native stuff to protect and if it's terminal ill and genetically unsound--we are just 'spinning our wheels" right now if that is the future-. If you could really crack down on steroid use--I know the sports etc are lucrative but with most of the healthcare coming from the state and local tax coffers--it's not lucrative--it's destroying out genetics.-thanx Mr. Kobach glad to see your doing well-jeffry helms

Greg Cooper 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Mr. Helms, you seem to have learned just enough terms your use of which is not only scientifically invalid but pretty much ignores the subject at hand, which is a violation of the terms of service on this forum. Oh, yeah, and your English usage and sentence construction are, to be kind, terribly hard to follow. But interesting, I must say.

Bob Smith 4 months, 4 weeks ago

The winner of the run-on sentence contest of the day has been identified.

Michael Dennis 4 months, 4 weeks ago

"You seem to have learned just enough terms your use of which is not only scientifically invalid but pretty much ignores the subject at hand, which is a violation of" and then critiques "sentence construction."

Too ignorant to get how ignorant you are. Too much of that going around these days...

RJ Johnson 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I read most of these commits and just shake my head. You guys do realize that out of a 105 counties there are only two counties, Douglas County and Wyandotte County that are blue!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 months, 4 weeks ago

You do realize that we have elected Democrats as governors before, don't you.

Alex Landazuri 4 months, 3 weeks ago

shhh! they dont like real facts only the ones they make up.

Michael Kort 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Kobach...... the great legal wiz kid can't even do a legally correct building permit with his name on it.........or was he just doing a little property tax evasion, thru the back door, here in Douglas County on his personal farm improvements ?

Kris is a true CON-------servative !

They need to change the name of this state from Kansas to "CONS-----US" as that better describes the situation at hand !

I guess that he could steal some Kansas voter's cars and they would still vote for him because .............dumb is dumb enough .

P Allen Macfarlane 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Another word for a Kansas Republican - lemming.

Bob Summers 4 months, 4 weeks ago

So does code word "moderate" mean they believe in partial birth abortion and not believe in full abortion like the congenital Liberals do and are not against abortion like the sans congenital Liberals are?

Or what?

What does code word "moderate" mean?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Why have birth control, when you can just get them born, then starve them to death.

Bob Summers 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Either way, fewer humans saves the planet from climate change.

Mark Kostner 4 months, 4 weeks ago

No doubt it will be an interesting race next year. The real wild card is Orman and his independent bid and who the Democrats nominate. It could be a three way with the moderates with Orman, the liberals with the Democrat and the conservatives with Kobach and the winner winning by a nose and with a minority of the vote. Then he has to govern.

Geoff Ermlap 4 months, 4 weeks ago

It is possible to do worse than Brownback and Kobach would be a good candidate for that. Hopefully people will have had enough and will move to a more moderate candidate regardless of party. Hate, anger, and greed is not a good platform to run on.

Richard Heckler 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Sam Brownback, Kris Koabch, the Lt Governor and Donald Trump always makes on e wonder why so many voters stay home. Could massive voter suppression be among the real clues as to how this can happen. All four of the above named support voter suppression.

On a matter of equal concern:

Remember Trump used a degrading word to describe a females vaginal area while using his fingers to demonstrate which was sexual harassment in and of itself not to mention the conservatives war on women and women's rights is massive sexual harassment

Can anyone believe that Trump would use a degrading word to describe a females vaginal area publicly while using his fingers to demonstrate publicly which was sexual harassment in and of itself.

Not to mention the conservatives war on women and women's rights is massive sexual harassment beyond reality.

Yes the entire right wing libertarian/fundamentailst anti american party commits sexual harassment 24/7 each time this group legislates against women.

Yes the women in this anti American Party are also committing sexual harassment against women.

The party is insane beyond belief!

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