TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have said no to Kris Kobach twice over the past four years. But he is Still betting that this can be the year he makes a political comeback.
His losses, including a 2018 defeat that handed the governor’s office in this Republican-leaning state to a Democrat, might end other political careers. But Kobach, who built a national reputation as an immigration hard-liner while Kansas secretary of state, is now aiming for the state attorney general’s office.
He faces two Republican opponents who lack his star power. If he wins the Aug. 2 primary, an anticipated GOP tide in November may be enough to lift even wobbly candidates.
So far, the primary race against state Mon. Kellie Warren and former federal prosecutor Tony Mattivi has been mostly about the candidates’ backgrounds, their personal styles and whether they have the courtroom chops to win lawsuits against President Joe Biden’s policies on issues such as guns, abortion and regulating businesses.
“I decided to run for attorney general the day that President Biden was sworn into office,” Kobach said in the candidates’ most recent debate, having promised to set up a special unit focused on suing the federal government.
But Warren, Mattivi and their supporters want to make the race about electability, too — even if it seems as though any Democrat would be a weak match for any Republican, given inflation, gas prices and anger over COVID-19 restrictions. The Democrats are running first-time candidate Chris Mannan attorney, former police officer and former local prosecutor.
“Why take a risk?” said Alan Cobb, president and CEO of the influential Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Warren in the attorney general’s race. “There are exceptions to waves all the time.”
Kobach’s years of pushing tough immigration and