Thad Allton/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP/John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star via AP

Colyer, Kobach send supporters home as Kansas race undecided

August 08, 2018 - 2:21 am

Immigration hardliner Kris Kobach and Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer were awaiting the outcome of their tight Republican primary race Wednesday in a key test of whether President Donald Trump's late endorsement would prove decisive for Kobach.

The two campaigns for governor sent their supporters home from election night watch parties with the race still too-close-to-call and results still trickling in from the state's most populous county in the Kansas City area — where Colyer initially was leading.

Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, built a national reputation as a conservative agitator for both tough immigration policies and strict voter identification laws. He was an early supporter of Trump in the presidential race, advised him during the campaign and in the White House, and served as vice chairman of a now-disbanded presidential commission on election fraud.

But Colyer — who only became governor in January, succeeding Sam Brownback — raised more in campaign contributions than Kobach, received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, and had the backing of Kansas political legend, former U.S. Senator Bob Dole.

Kobach and Colyer were virtually tied atop a seven-candidate field early Wednesday with most of the outstanding results from Johnson County, which has nearly 23 percent of the state's voters.

Kansas has no automatic recount procedure and if a recount is requested it must be paid for by the candidate requesting it.

President Trump intervened in the race less than 24 hours before polls opened, endorsing Kobach in a tweet. Kobach told reporters that the endorsement "came just in time" and that he expected it to help him, as it has helped other candidates in other races. 

Laura Kelly, a 14-year veteran of the Legislature, defeated former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who had sought to be the first-ever black nominee, and ex-Kansas Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty, who had stressed his youth and potential rural appeal.

Besides Colyer and Kobach, the other major GOP candidates, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Sen. Jim Barnett, were far behind.

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