Views from Kansas: Keep Kobach out of Cabinet

Editor’s Note: Views from Kansas is a regular feature that highlights editorials and other viewpoints from across the state.

Let’s establish right off the bat that Kris Kobach and Donald Trump fit together pretty well. Let’s also acknowledge that there’s a job opening in President Trump’s administration that would seem to fit Mr. Kobach’s particular orientation pretty well.

We almost always root for Kansans in this sort of situation: It would seem to be good for Kansas, and for us here in Manhattan, to have one of our own in high public office.

But in this case, we need to send a strong contrary signal: Please, Mr. President, don’t put Mr. Kobach in charge of the border.

Mr. Kobach’s name has surfaced as a potential candidate to run the Department of Homeland Security after the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen as the secretary of that agency. Although she carried out President Trump’s controversial policies on immigration, it’s clear that she was at least an internal roadblock to some of his more extreme ideas. So he ran her off.

He wants somebody to do his bidding. Mr. Kobach, as you probably know, has long advocated anti-immigrant policies. He has also run headlong into the law itself, to the point where he was disciplined by courts here in Kansas for essentially ignoring rules.

Like Mr. Trump, he’s a populist. He got himself elected by telling people what he thinks they want to hear. He divides, rather than unites. He contends, for instance, that immigrants have swamped the electoral system to submit fraudulent votes, despite the fact that there’s no evidence at all.

Perhaps he believes all the stuff he says. We can’t really know that.

What we do know is that he would play to Mr. Trump’s worst instincts, and would likely run the federal government afoul of the law. This is why Sen. Pat Roberts, a fellow Kansas Republican, has tried to head off the idea of his nomination. Texas Republican John Cornyn followed up with this: “I wouldn’t be able to support him. I think his rhetoric on immigration is very damaging to Republicans and would not help us solve what is a very complex problem, which is going to require some negotiation and compromise.”

This echoes what we said about Mr. Kobach during his failed campaign for governor, and for that matter his earlier campaigns for secretary of state: He’s not good for Republicans.

He will ultimately run off a lot of voters. Mr. Trump would further damage himself and his party — not to mention the country itself — with such a nomination.

— Originally published in The Manhattan Mercury

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