While Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts are fighting for their political lives,
Kansas' immigration and voter ID hardliner secretary of state Kris Kobach's re-election is also feeling the heat.
Kobach, planning a TV ad campaign as the Nov. 4 election draws near, blames the problem on the state’s newspaper editorial boards lashing out against his voter ID efforts – and the "down-ticket effect" of problems plaguing the struggling Brownback and Roberts, Politico reports.
The state Republican Party is so focused on helping save Brownback and Roberts, Kobach has to mostly fend for himself, Politico reports.
The race "appears to be closer than I would have guessed,” Kobach told Politico "Those two top-of-the-ticket races can create a sort of an anti-incumbent sentiment."
But he doesn't make it easy for party officials who want to promote his candidacy, Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, told Politico.
"There are some candidates, maybe statehouse candidates, that are more moderate that don’t want to be associated with his name — not that they are so much against him but they feel like he hurts them if it’s a close race," said Barker.
"And then there are others who love having him around because maybe their base is more conservative."
Kobach helped draft Arizona's tough immigration law, urged Mitt Romney to advocate for "self-deportation" and has been the driving force behind
Kansas' voter ID law – that not only requires ID, but proof of citizenship, Politico notes.
But moderate Republicans are leading a backlash against Brownback and Roberts , and Kobach may not escape their wrath, either, Politico reports.
His race is against former state Sen. Jean Schodorf, a Republican-turned-Democrat, and though a poll this week
by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found Kobach holding a 6-point lead in his race, some Republicans are worried, Politico reports.
"Kris is different," Barker told Politico. "He’s kind of a lightning rod; the liberal side really dislikes him on a personal level."
Democrats and many Republicans believe hard-line approaches to immigration and voter ID have cost the GOP with Latino and other minority voters – putting them in a poor position to win the White House in 2016.
"Well, they're wrong," Kobach, a former advisor to 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, asserted. Politico notes that in a shot at Republicans who have backed bills with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Kobach has even mocked Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio as "Mr. Amnesty."
He's equally tough on his election rival.
Though Schodorf voted for the tough 2011 voter ID law, she now charges Kobach and Brownback broke every promise” made to state legislators about how they would implement it, Politico reports.
As a result, she said, "22,000 voters have had their voting rights taken away, including senior citizens and others who can’t produce such documentation.
"That’s un-American," she said. "Nothing has been done to help these people get back on the voter rolls."
Kobach fired back, telling Politico:
"Jean Schodorf does not know what she’s talking about," arguing the roughly 22,000 people at issue are ones who have incomplete registration forms and have never been registered to vote.
"She often makes statements that have no basis in reality."
"The interesting thing is the Democrat Party has done a much better job of painting Republican motivations as racist or impure or unacceptable," Kobach added.
"The motivations are the rule of law, the fiscal health of the country and national security."
Schodorf LAO asserts Kobach is a blemish on the state's reputation.
"People are tired of being embarrassed for Kansas," she told Politico. "There are 600 duties assigned to the secretary of state: Immigration is not mentioned in one of those duties."
Kobach wears his "conservative warrior image" proudly, Politico reports.
"The open borders left does not like me," he told Politico. "To an extent, it’s a rational reaction because I'm doing things that are making a difference."
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