While most eyes will be on competitive races for the U.S. House and Senate this November, there will be some competitive gubernatorial races as well, some of them in solidly red states.
One of those states is Kansas, and the contentious, disputed result of last week’s GOP primary there is not boosting the chances of Republicans retaining the governor’s mansion.
“Kansas Democrats watch with glee as Republicans Colyer, Kobach fight over election,” reads the blazing headline of the top story on the best-read website covering state politics, a toxic narrative for whoever comes out on top, and one that could easily have been prevented. It was pretty clear on election night that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had pulled off a victory by a razor-thin margin, largely on the strength of a Trumpian, hardline stand on illegal immigration. The initial margin of victory was only 191 votes, but absentee ballots (where Kobach has a clear advantage) had not yet been counted, and there were approximately 9,000 “provisional” ballots set aside because of various irregularities.
These provisional ballots were not included for a variety of reasons in the vote totals, many because they either lacked proof of state residence or did not include party affiliation, strict requirements under Kansas law. The majority of savvy political analysts in the state gave the win to Kobach election night. And now after several provisional ballots have been counted (which has increased Kobach’s margin of victory to 206 votes) many of those same analysts are calling for an end to this nonsense, especially since most are well aware of the inflexible state rules on the inadmissibility of many of these provisional ballots.
That didn’t stop Jeff “Clinton” Colyer from dragging out the contentious contest and insisting that all provisional ballots be counted, regardless of Kansas election law. Just like Hillary, Colyer seems unable to process his loss, and instead of moving on, is insisting that Kobach is involved in some grand conspiracy among state officials to manipulate the vote. Anyone familiar with election oversight knows that this is patent paranoid nonsense, and Colyer should be ashamed of himself for the harm he is doing to GOP chances in November.
Democrat Laura Kelly is a well-funded opponent, who is polling extremely well and is poised to hand Republicans their first gubernatorial defeat in years. By dragging out this fight and not unifying behind the victor, Colyer is only helping her chances. He seems determined to further the narrative of a corrupt Kansas GOP and hand the governor’s office to the Democrat Party.
Colyer needs to give up this kamikaze challenge before he brings the entire state party down with him. Right now, that doesn’t seem likely. With his ridiculous assertions of a conspiracy to manipulate the vote count, he seems determined to mount a legal challenge to the outcome, which would be disastrous for Republican prospects in November.
In fact, given his behavior since the primary, I wouldn’t be surprised if Colyer’s next move were to allege that his loss to Kobach was a result of his opponent’s collusion with the Russians.
Robert Wasinger served in senior advisory and liaison roles in President Donald Trump‘s campaign and transition team, after extensive experience on Capitol Hill.
Disclosure: Kris Kobach is a contributor to Breitbart News.