Controversial Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is being criticized by other Kansas Republicans for his closeness with President Donald Trump.
Kobach, who also runs Trump's so-called voter fraud task force and is known as "the king of voter suppression," has made no secret that he wants a promotion. But his public campaigning for a spot in the Trump administration is now a point of contention as Kobach simultaneously campaigns for the GOP nomination for governor of Kansas.
"Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s Republican rivals for governor criticized what they see as a lack of commitment to Kansas as Kobach refuses to quell rumors that he might get a position in President Donald Trump’s cabinet," Bryan Lowry reported for the Kansas City Star.
“He’s not doing his current job, he’s not going to do his next job, and he keeps auditioning for new positions wherever he can find them,” said Wink Hartman, a Wichita oil magnate also running in the GOP primary. "Kansans are fed up with career politicians watching out for themselves instead of the people."
“The next Governor needs to be focused on Kansas and not higher office or a Washington appointment,” said 2006 GOP nominee Dr. Jim Barnett.
Kobach has been mentioned as a potential nominee for the vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security or as Attorney General should Jeff Sessions be moved to DHS.
"There is probably no figure in Trumpland this side of Anthony Scaramucci more polarizing than Kris Kobach," Ed Kilgore explained in NY Mag. "If you don’t think the Trump administration can get any weirder, imagine Kobach becoming the nation’s chief voting-rights-enforcement official."
In Esquire, Charles Pierce wrote, "the single most malevolent ethical dwarf in this incredible array of boobs and vandals may be Kris Kobach, the godfather of the national movement to suppress the votes of people the GOP would prefer not to exercise the franchise, and author of some of the most extreme anti-immigration strategies since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In Kobach's mind, of course, these go hand-in-hand in the fight against 'voter fraud,' which also exists largely between Kobach's ears."
So far such an approach has served Kobach well, but the nature of the Kansas Republican Primary may change all of that.
If the United States Senate confirms current Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Lt. Governor Jeff Coyler will be elevated and will be able to campaign as the sitting governor during the GOP primary.
"Kobach’s chilling narrative of deceitful foreigners subverting democracy has served him well. Making people believe that voter fraud is rampant builds public support for policies that restrict access to the ballot," Ari Berman explained in The New York Times. "And claims of illegal voting by noncitizens help justify Kobach’s hard-line anti-immigration agenda. This has given Kobach a powerful political constituency, not least of which is the president himself."