Trump suggests Colyer may get post in his administration
photo by: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
TOPEKA — One can only guess that there was an awkward moment Saturday when President Donald Trump landed at Forbes Field in Topeka and rode to the Kansas Expocentre for a political rally with Gov. Jeff Colyer in the limousine.
Trump, of course, came to Topeka for a political rally on behalf of Kris Kobach, the Republican secretary of state who narrowly beat Colyer in the Aug. 7 primary. And many believe that it was Trump’s endorsement of Kobach, one day before the primary, that pushed him over the top.
Nobody can know for sure what was said in that short car ride, but when they arrived at the Expocentre Trump appeared as though he was trying to make amends. He praised Colyer as “a man of incredible integrity and class,” and suggested that there may be a job waiting for him in Washington after his term expires in January.
There even seemed to be the hint of an apology in Trump’s remarks, bearing in mind that this is a president famous for never apologizing.
“But I didn’t know Jeff,” Trump said. “I told Jeff, I said, ‘Nothing personal, I just didn’t know you. Because, when I backed Kris …'” Trump then paused and shrugged, as if to suggest he hadn’t really thought about it that much.
Trump then continued: “And you have one hell of a governor. And I think we have to talk about bringing him down to Washington or something. We talked about it.”
Whether that was genuine or just Trump’s way of trying to say something nice is hard to determine at this point. Colyer’s office, however, issued a statement indicating he has no immediate plans to move to Washington.
“The governor was very humbled and honored by the President’s remarks. He is currently focused on leading the people of Kansas and making sure our great state stays red in November,” his office said in an email statement.
Trump’s remarks made it sound like he simply endorsed Kobach because the two of them had a history together and it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Kobach was, after all, the first high-profile Republican in Kansas to endorse Trump in the Kansas presidential caucuses in 2016. Colyer, meanwhile, was serving as then-Gov. Sam Brownback’s lieutenant governor at the time, and Brownback had endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the nomination.
Political allegiances aside, though, it didn’t go unnoticed that a Republican president was weighing in on a contested Republican primary and endorsing against a sitting Republican governor.
Polls leading up to the Aug. 7 primary had shown Colyer with a narrow 2-point lead over Kobach, a statistical tie, given the polls’ margins of error. One poll released before the Trump endorsement showed Kobach ahead by 7 points, but that was generally thought to be an outlier.
When county officials started counting ballots on Aug. 7, the first totals released were from advance ballots — those cast before the Trump endorsement — and they showed Colyer with a narrow lead. But when the ballots cast on Election Day were added up, Kobach pulled ahead by the narrowest of margins.
It wasn’t until a week later, after provisional ballots across the state were counted, that the final tally showed Kobach winning by 343 votes, or about 1 percent of all the votes cast in the GOP primary.
Kobach himself said in an interview Monday that he believes Trump’s endorsement gave him a bump in the primary, and he expects to receive a similar bump from Saturday’s campaign rally in Topeka, which he would need because polls now show him locked in an equally tight race with Democratic candidate Sen. Laura Kelly.