With Kansas Republican voters going to the polls on Tuesday to pick a nominee to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Roberts, GOP leaders in the state are expressing frustration with Donald Trump for refusing to endorse the candidate preferred by local party leaders which could lead to a highly controversial candidate getting the nod.
According to the Huffington Post, the Republican leadership in Kansas would prefer Rep. Roger Marshall be the November nominee but may be stuck with former Trump nominee Kris Kobach who, polls show, would drive away many conservative voters.
With a popular Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former moderate Republican running for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday’s primary, Republicans see one of the two Senate seats held by the GOP since 1932 switching hands.
Kobach’s possible primary win is also worrying to Republican strategists outside the state with former Mitch McConnell chief of staff Josh Holmes lamenting, “It’s substantially better for Republicans if Marshall is the nominee. But because the primary is so late and it’s been competitive, the Democrat has run totally unopposed right up until [now]. No matter what the state looks like, if that’s the situation you’ve got to keep an eye on it.”
According to the report, Republicans in Kansas have been trying to get the president to endorse Marshall, but he has instead ignored the entreaties, losing interest after Secretay of State Mike Pompeo ruled out running for the seat.
Reporting, “The Republican nightmare in Kansas does not have a single cause,” the HuffPo piece states, “ut the ultimate blame may go to President Donald Trump, who has not only alienated voters in Kansas’ largest county and made Democratic statewide victories in this once bright-red state possible, but also resisted entreaties by GOP officials to take sides in the primary contest against Kobach. These Republicans have repeatedly argued to Trump that, as a Senate candidate, Kobach would let him down as he did when he lost the governor’s race despite the president’s endorsement.”
HuffPo’s Kevin Robillard added, “Trump was more helpful when Republicans were courting Pompeo, who previously represented the Wichita area in the House of Representatives, to run for the Senate seat. Senate Republicans argued to Pompeo that he would be better positioned for a 2024 presidential run if he joined the Senate, but Pompeo ultimately rebuffed their pleas.”
According to Rep. Rui Xu (D-KS) neither Republican candidate with a shot at the nomination was optimal for the GOP.
“When you talk to people about Kobach, there’s an immediate negative reaction to him,” Xu explained. “But when you talk to people in my part of the state, there’s very, very little name recognition for Marshall.”
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