Kris Kobach, the anti-voting rights crusader, has filed paperwork to run for the US Senate: report

Kobach has filed papers with the FEC to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas

By Matthew Rozsa

Published July 8, 2019 1:20PM (EDT)

Kris Kobach (Getty/Scott Olson)
Kris Kobach (Getty/Scott Olson)

Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State known for concocting spurious voter fraud stories as a voter suppression technique, will soon mount an attempt at a political comeback when he launches a bid for the U.S. Senate.

Kobach has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to run for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, according to the Hill. The 53-year-old right-winger is expected to make an official announcement later Monday in Leavenworth. If he follows through on his decision to run, Kobach would join a competitive field that already includes Kansas state Treasurer Jake LaTurner and potentially Rep. Roger Marshall.

One influential Republican operative threw cold water on the idea of Kobach being a viable candidate, arguing that his candidacy could imperil the GOP's ability to retain control of the Senate.

"You can see a real scenario where President Trump is reelected and the U.S. Senate falls to the Democrats if [Kris] Kobach puts Kansas in play," the unnamed operative told the Hill.

Kobach does indeed have a less-than-sterling track record in Kansas. Last November, he lost the race to be Kansas' governor to Democratic nominee Laura Kelly, even though President Donald Trump had carried that red state over Hillary Clinton by double digits in the 2016 election. Kobach has also become a lightning rod of controversy due to his anti-voting policies: He led Trump's now-defunct Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was disbanded after numerous states found his demands for information on voter rolls to be intrusive and uncovered no evidence of voter fraud. He has also been fined for "misleading the court" in cases pertaining to the restrictive voter ID laws in his state, ones which he has also attempted to spread to other states.

In rejecting Kobach's restrictive voting law last year, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson argued that of the "small number of noncitizen registrations in Kansas, it is largely explained by administrative error, confusion or mistake." She also dismissed Kobach's argument that the evidence of only a small number of noncitizens voting being the "tip of the iceberg" as nonsense, stating that "the Court draws the more obvious conclusion that there is no iceberg; only an icicle, largely created by confusion and administrative error."

Finally, she ordered Kobach to complete six hours of legal education, saying that because Kobach "chose to represent his own office in this matter, and as such, had a duty to familiarize himself with the governing rules of procedure and to ensure as the lead attorney on this case that his discovery obligations were satisfied despite his many duties as a busy public servant."

"He and his crony Kris Kobach of Kansas are simply the advance guard of a new wave of officials, most (but not all) Republicans, who are using suspect and racially poisonous schemes such as Interstate Crosscheck to purge their voter rolls," journalist Greg Palast told Salon in October when discussing Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's efforts to purge voters from the rolls. (Kemp was subsequently elected governor.)

He added, "Most officials have come out with their hands up and their files open. In addition to Georgia, I’ve already posted the ridiculously large purge lists of Indiana, Nevada, Nebraska, Illinois and Colorado on, with more coming."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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