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Politics A Trump Ally in Kansas Has D.C. Republicans Worried About Senate Control

18:50  04 august  2020
18:50  04 august  2020 Source:   bloomberg.com

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(Bloomberg) -- The fate of the increasingly fragile Republican Senate majority could hinge on the outcome of Tuesday’s primary in Kansas.

The 11-candidate contest to nominate the GOP’s Senate candidate for an open seat is being watched with trepidation by establishment Republicans and with glee by Democrats.

The reason is Kris Kobach, an immigration hard-liner who has closely aligned himself with President Donald Trump. That should be a winning formula in such a heavily Republican state. But the former Kansas secretary of state has become so polarizing that he was soundly defeated by a Democrat in the governor’s race two years ago despite Trump’s endorsement.

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Kris Kobach wearing a suit and tie: Democrat Kelly Elected Kansas Governor in Upset of Trump Ally © Bloomberg Democrat Kelly Elected Kansas Governor in Upset of Trump Ally

Kris Kobach.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Political operatives in both parties and independent analysts all agree that a Kobach victory Tuesday would increase the chances of Democrats winning the seat in November, adding it to the list of at least seven GOP-held seats that are vulnerable.

Kansas is one of five states holding primaries on Tuesday, but the GOP Senate primary there is the most consequential contest in the November election that will decide control of the White House and Congress.

Some $14 million had already been reported spent on the GOP Senate primary in a state Trump won by 20 points in 2016 — mostly by outside groups — a staggering sum for the mostly rural state of about 3 million people. The spending gives a clear window on the political dynamics of the race.

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While Democrats abhor Kobach’s politics, a Democratic-backed political action committee, the Sunflower State PAC, has plowed more than $5 million into ads subtly aimed at boosting Kobach.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a group tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has in turn run $1.9 million on ads for Roger Marshall, a two-term U.S. representative, telling voters he is “the Republican Choice” and urging them not to pick the candidate the Democrats want.

The candidates are vying to replace Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who is retiring. Party officials tried unsuccessfully to recruit Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in part to block a Kobach nomination. Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race.

Jessica Taylor, the Senate editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said a Kobach win would make holding the seat much more difficult for Republicans.

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  GOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Republicans are scrambling to head off potential political trouble in Kansas, fearing what happens if Kris Kobach emerges victorious in the GOP Senate primary.Senate Republican leaders are backing Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) for the nomination, believing that he has the best chance of holding down retiring Sen. Pat Roberts's (R-Kan.) seat for the GOP.

“The danger Republican groups have put themselves in by attacking Kobach for months now is that they may well be forced to have him as their nominee,” said Taylor, who recently wrote that Democrats are now favored to retake the Senate. “This is a state Republicans can’t afford to lose amid an increasingly difficult Senate map.”

The winner is expected to face Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier, a former Republican state legislator who switched parties in 2018 after endorsing Laura Kelly, the Democrat who defeated Kobach. Bollier is vying to be the first Democrat elected to the chamber from Kansas since 1932.

Trump Factor

Marshall touts that he’s “trusted by Trump” and has voted with the president 98% of the time. While many Senate Republicans facing tough elections in November are distancing themselves from Trump, he remains a powerful force in party primaries.

“I think it does say a lot that a person who Trump endorsed in a primary last time is not being endorsed this time,” said Eric Pahls, spokesman for the Marshall campaign. “The president doesn’t like losers.”

Kansas Senate primary: Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall face off at the polls

  Kansas Senate primary: Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall face off at the polls The Kansas Senate Republican primary on Tuesday has suddenly become the center of the two parties' struggle for control of the chamber. © Provided by CNN Democrats haven't won a Senate seat in the state since 1932, the longest losing streak for the party in the country. But the Republican establishment is terrified that spell might be broken if the state's GOP voters pick former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as its nominee. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

Marshall has an A-list lineup of endorsements in the state, including Roberts, former Kansas Senator Bob Dole and the Kansas Farm Bureau.

The Kobach campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Other candidates in the race include Bob Hamilton, a plumbing company founder who has spent $3.5 million of his own money, and former National Football League player Dave Lindstrom.

There is no runoff in Kansas, so whoever wins a plurality will be the nominee.

Primaries are also being held in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri and Washington. In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib, a member of “The Squad” of four progressive first-term women who have shaken up the House Democratic Party and received national attention from both parties. Tlaib faces a rematch with Brenda Jones, the Detroit City Council president.

And another Kansas Republican, Representative Steve Watkins, also faces voters weeks after being charged with felony voter fraud. He faces challenges from Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner and former Kansas Labor Secretary Dennis Taylor.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

It just became a lot less likely that a Democrat will win a Senate seat in Kansas (Opinion) .
Alice Stewart writes that the GOP primary race for Kasnas's vacant senate seat revealed that the Democrats didn't know who the real Trump-candidate was. Representative Roger Marshall's win against former Secretary of State Kris Kobach almost certainly means a loss for Democrats come November.Republican Party leaders are breathing a sigh of relief and Democratic operatives are licking their wounds after their ill-fated political gamesmanship failed them in Tuesday night's primary election in Kansas. It seems they didn't know who the real Trump candidate was in this race and in this state -- which Trump won by more than 20 points in 2016. Now they know.

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This is interesting!