Republicans "scared to death" that birther Kris Kobach could be their nominee in Kansas Senate race

In 2018, Kobach accomplished something that isn’t easy to do in deeply red Kansas ⁠— he lost a gubernatorial race

By Alex Henderson
Published August 12, 2019 12:09PM (EDT)
 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

In the 2018 midterms, Kris Kobach accomplished something that isn’t easy to do in deeply Republican Kansas: he lost a gubernatorial race to a Democrat. With Kobach determined to run for a U.S. Senate seat in that state, the fact that Democrat Laura Kelly is now governor of Kansas instead of a Republican isn’t lost on GOP strategists —who fear that Kobach would lose again. But according to a report by Chris McGreal for The Guardian, there are some other people who want to see Kobach nominated in Kansas’ Senate race: Democrats.

Although Kansas is one of the most Republican states in the Midwest, Kobach is such an embarrassment that some Democratic strategists believe he could be defeated again. Politically, Kobach is way beyond conservative: he’s extreme and has been a major proponent of the racist “birther” conspiracy theory, which claims that former President Barack Obama was really born in Kenya instead of the United States. On top of that, Kobach has aggressively pushed voter suppression measures.

David Kensinger, who served as chief of staff under former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, is among the Republicans hoping that Kobach won’t continue to pursue the GOP senatorial nomination in Kansas — and he told The Guardian, “He’s the worst possible Republican nominee, and no one knows it better than the national Democrats.”

In order to achieve a majority in the U.S. Senate in 2020, Democrats would need to enjoy a net gain of four seats while maintaining every seat they are defending. Democratic strategists believe that GOP-held seats in Maine, Colorado and Iowa are very much in play, but for Democrats, a U.S. Senate win in Kansas would be as much of a shocker as Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ victory over Republican Roy Moore in deep red Alabama in 2017.

Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, shares Kensinger’s view that Democrats would love to see Kobach win the GOP senatorial primary in his state and go up against him in the general election.

“If you’re a Democrat in Kansas right now,” Loomis asserted, “you have to hope that Kris Kobach gets the nomination. There’s no question that the mainline Republicans — fairly conservative but not crazy Republicans — they’re scared to death of having Kobach as their nominee because they think he’s the most likely way they could lose a seat that has been in Republican hands for over 100 years.”

Alex Henderson

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