On Friday The Washington Post devoted a front-page story to making a case that Kansas’ modern conservatism is not working and that the Republican Party there “starts to take things in moderation” — a punch at the state, claiming it is moving from right to center.
As proof of its case, the Post pointed to the coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans that last week voted to successfully override lame duck Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a tax increase.
The report comes the same week that Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a stalwart conservative with shinier “good as Goldwater” credentials than Brownback himself, announced for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.
Speaking to Newsmax on Thursday between stops on his announcement tour, he told me: “It is true that Kansas [under Brownback] has successively cut taxes. But it is also true that total state spending has gone up $14.7 billion to $15.5 billion since 2011.”
He contrasted that with the budget of his own office in the same years: from $7 million in 2011 to $4.7 million in the last fiscal year.
“That was not accomplished by massive firings,” Kobach emphasized. “The size of my office went down 18 percent because we combined functions and did not hire new people when someone retired. We can do the same thing for the rest of state government.”
Regarding the not-so-conservative Republican legislators who joined with Democrats to raise taxes, I asked if he would get involved in their respective primaries to replace them with fellow tax foes. “Yes,” Kobach replied without hesitation.
The governor makes no secret of his disagreement with the secretary of state over Kobach’s noted hardline of illegal immigration. Moreover, Kobach also publicly and forcefully opposed a Brownback effort to hike the fees Kansas businesses pay every year — a hike that would have increased the fee amount by more than 1,000 percent for some LLCs.
A former Bush administration official and Republican state chairman, Kobach has become a national leader in the fight against illegal immigration. He has overseen legislation requiring Kansas to present a photo ID and proof of U.S. citizenship to vote. Kobach is also the lone secretary of state in the U.S. empowered to prosecute for voter fraud.
“And I do believe voter fraud has occurred in the last election in greater numbers than we have been led to believe,” he said. Earlier this year, Kobach was named by President Trump to a nine-member blue-ribbon panel to investigate voter fraud in the 2016 election.
Kobach is not going to have a free ride in the primary next August. Already, multi-millionaire businessman Wink Hartman is vying for nomination. Other likely GOP contenders include Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (a close ally of Brownback), State Attorney General Derek Schmidt, and Senate President Susan Wagle.
Clearly sensing that a rancorous Republican primary could result in their capture of the statehouse, Democrats are holding their first contested primary for governor in 20 years. Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is squaring off against Joshua Svaty, former state secretary of agriculture.
“It won’t be an easy race — that’s for sure,” Kobach told me. “But that is sure not going to make me compromise or tone done my vision for Kansas.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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