Surprisingly, Kris Kobach is running for the United States Senate.
You would think the former Kansas Secretary of State would have learned his lesson after he practically handed the governorship to Laura Kelly in 2018. Or maybe after losing a legal battle against the ACLU on his landmark issue — voter fraud — and being forced to take legal education classes for violating court orders.
You would think that would be enough to deter him from running again.
But instead, Kobach — who currently serves on the advisory board of an organization building a border wall with private funding — is running on “leading the charge for President Trump” in the upper chamber.
During his announcement rally on Monday in Leavenworth — which I had the misfortune of attending — Kobach declared, if elected, “the Washington establishment is not going to get what they want.”
Well, if Kobach is referring to Republican leadership, then he’s certainly right.
A spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee blasted him for putting “President Trump’s presidency and Senate majority at risk.” Also, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, a PAC aligned with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), warned “Kansas Republicans deserve a nominee who can win.”
To become the nominee, Kobach has to wade through a crowded primary field that includes at least 16 Republicans considering a run.
I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if Kobach is able to pull off a primary win by splitting the rest of the field — just like he did in last year’s gubernatorial primary. Even if he becomes the party’s nominee, a general election victory is uncertain, even in the state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1932.
Kobach alienated moderate Republicans in the race for governor. If nominated, he runs the risk of driving those voters into the arms of his Democratic opponent.
A strong candidate like former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom — who entered the race on July 1 — or Sen. Barbara Bollier, a state lawmaker who recently switched her party affiliation and is considering a run, could take advantage of this moderate defection.
But I’d venture to say the biggest factor at play is the Democratic nominee for president. If Democrats nominate a candidate like U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kansas Republicans may show up to the polls in droves to cast their vote against the self-described socialist. This could jeopardize the turnout advantage Democrats enjoy during years with presidential elections.
So if Democrats nominate a decent — which, yes, probably means moderate — candidate for president, their Senate candidate here just might have a shot.
Otherwise, the Kansas GOP’s winning streak will just keep growing.
Nick Hinman is a Junior from Olathe majoring in political science and philosophy.