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Big Trouble for the GOP in Kansas

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Two months ago, the Republican Governors Association was aggressively lobbying to block Kris Kobach from winning the Republican nomination. The RGA worried that “polls show [Kobach] is unpopular with the general electorate in Kansas and would provide Democrats an opening to take back the governorship,” according to the New York Times.
We don’t say this often at the DGA, but the RGA was right.
The past two months have proven the RGA’s fears to be justified. Kobach’s polling remains deeply underwater and he is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Laura Kelly. The race for governor is a statistical tie, with Kelly holding a 1-point lead, according to a new poll this week. Kelly has run a strong campaign, picking up major Republican endorsements and running ads focused on restoring funding to schools after the Brownback tax experiment.
Kobach faces three major problems:

  1. His support for Sam Brownback’s economic plans
  2. His habit of putting national ambitions first, while neglecting his Kansas duties
  3. Kansas Republicans deserting Kobach and flocking to Kelly

Today, Kobach is set to continue doing what he loves best: preening on the national stage. But his unpopularity in Kansas has made this red state into a toss-up race. While Kobach has courted national celebrity, he has left Kansas families behind.
Now, voters have clearly shown they won’t stand for it. Perhaps the RGA was right all along.
Doubling Down on Brownback
Kris Kobach has not been bashful of his admiration for Sam Brownback. He’s been called a “consistent and unflinching supporter” of the Brownback experiment and has “defended Brownback’s approach.”  He has called Brownback a “transformative governor” and even pledged that returning to the Brownback experiment was the “biggest, number one item” on his agenda as governor.
After massive cuts to education and huge job losses, Brownback became one of the least popular governors in America.  While Kansans clearly want nothing more to do with the Brownback experiment, Kobach is determined to totally rewind the state back to Brownback’s disastrous policies.
Kobach is Widely Unpopular for Wasting Taxpayer Dollars while Preening on the National Stage
There is a reason Cook Political Report calls Kobach a “flawed nominee” and rates the race a “toss-up.” Kansas voters REALLY don’t like Kobach. While Kobach’s name ID is a healthy 84%, nearly half of Kansas find him unfavorable.
And it’s no wonder they don’t like him. While Kobach chased national headlines, he wasted resources back in Kansas and left taxpayers to foot the bill for his legal fees. The result of his ambition? A dressing down by a federal judge, a contempt of court charge, and being embarrassingly ordered to take remedial law courses just last year. No wonder Kansas voters don’t want to give him a promotion.
Kansas Republicans Are Bailing on Kobach in Droves
With a viscerally disliked candidate who promises to return to the Brownback era, Kansas Republicans are fleeing from their party’s nominee and supporting Democrat Laura Kelly. Nearly 30 prominent Kansas Republicans endorsed Kelly, including former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves and former U.S Sen. Nancy Kassebaum.
Gov. Graves said, “Laura Kelly is the only Democrat I have ever endorsed for public office. And the reason I’m doing that now is because I believe so much is at stake in the state of Kansas.”
A recent report found that 40% of Kansas Republican legislators refused to answer whether they are going to support Kobach, clearly demonstrating his toxicity among his fellow current elected GOP officials.
It is clear that Republicans in Kansas know how dangerous it would be to elect Kobach and bring the state back into the Brownback experiment. No wonder they are running away from this toxic candidate.
There is no way to deny it–Kobach has been in trouble from day one of his ill-fated campaign. While Kobach flaunts in front of national cable news cameras, Kansas is still climbing out of a massive budget hole caused by Sam Brownback. Kobach’s economic plan is Brownback 2.0 and would dig Kansas further into that hole.
In July, the New York Times reported Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer “warned that nominating ‘Kris would bring a lot of risk’ because of his unpopularity with the general electorate, citing polls that show Mr. Kobach behind the potential Democratic nominee…” It turns out he was right.