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GOP attempts to interfere in Kansas Senate primary foiled by Trump

by Anne Farley (2020-09-19)

Establishment Republicans sought Tuesday to thwart polarizing conservative Kris Kobach's bid for Kansas' open Senate seat, a task complicated by President Donald Trump's refusal to endorse their favored candidate in the primary.

Republicans haven't lost a Senate contest in Kansas since 1932.

house_plants_3-917x1375.jpgBut party leaders in Washington and many GOP activists in Kansas fear that the normally safe seat held by retiring four-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts will be in play if the party nominates Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state who is nationally known for advocating restrictive immigration policies.

A win in Kansas could help Democrats in their quest to retake control of the Senate, making New York Senator Chuck Schumer the new leader in that chamber.

Democrats need to pick up four Senate seats - if President Trump wins election - to make that happen. 

Republicans are trying to ensure a conservative firebrand doesn't win Kansas' GOP Senate primary but are being stymied by President Donald Trump's refusal to help them

The winner of Kansas' Republican Senate primary on Tuesday could ultimately decide which party controls the Senate and who is the chamber's next leader: Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (left) or Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (right)

Trump didn't intervene to help Rep.

Roger Marshall in the crowded GOP primary field, despite prodding from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others. The two-term congressman for western and central Kansas faced blistering attacks in the final weeks of the campaign, including from a political action committee with Democratic ties.

The GOP already faces a potentially tough year in trying to retain its 53-47 Senate majority with competitive races in other states, including Arizona, Colorado and Maine.

Republicans are hoping to avoid a repeat of 2018 when Kobach lost the state's gubernatorial race to Democrat Laura Kelly after alienating independent and moderate GOP voters.

Trump endorsed Kobach - an immigration hardliner - in that gubernatorial primary that saw the GOP ultimately lose the governor's seat. If you cherished this write-up and you would like to acquire more info regarding Your Trusted Toms River Plumbing Company kindly visit our web-page.   Kobach investigated allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 contest - after Trump named him the co-chair of his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity but that probe came to not.

The state saw a heavy reliance on mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic, and at least 234,000 voters cast ballots in advance - more than double the number from the 2018 and 2016 primaries.

Counties could accept ballots until Friday so long as they were postmarked Tuesday, creating uncertainty that the GOP Senate primary would be decided before then.

Many Republicans were nervous about the Senate race because the presumed Democratic nominee, state Sen. Barbara Bollier, has raised more than $8.2 million for her campaign, seeing a flood of contributions from outside Kansas.

Bollier is a retired Kansas City-area anesthesiologist and former moderate Republican who switched parties in 2018.

Marshall raised about $2.9 million and Kobach, a little more than $1 million in the Republican primary.

Marshall and Kobach sit atop an 11-person field, the largest one for the GOP since the state began holding Senate primaries more than 100 years ago. 

Also a factor in their race is candidate Bob Hamilton, the founder of a Kansas City-area plumbing company largely self-funded a campaign heavy on television ads with $3.5 million in personal loans.

Those figures were all dwarfed by PAC spending in the primary, which totaled about $11 million.

Republicans are worried if Kris Kobach (left) wins the primary he could lose the general election; Trump named Kobach the co-chair of his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in July 2017