Republican Kris Kobach lost his bid to be governor of Kansas last year, and now it looks like his bid for Senate could fail as well.
Kansas Republican Senate candidate Kris Kobach could be on pace to lose two statewide races in back-to-back election cycles, according to a poll leaked Wednesday to the Wall Street Journal showing him losing badly in a potential 2020 Senate race.
The poll, conducted on behalf of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), shows Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, trailing Democrat Barry Grissom by 10 points, 52% to 42%.
Grissom, a former U.S. attorney, is one of two high-profile Democrats vying to be the party's nominee. It is unclear if the poll also tested Kobach against the other high-profile candidate, former Rep. Nancy Boyda.
Kobach threw his hat in the ring after Republican Sen. Pat Roberts announced in January that he would not run again.
But Kansas voters may not be as excited to see Kobach run again, with the same poll showing voters have a deeply pessimistic view of him. Only 32% view him favorably, and half the state has an unfavorable view.
In 2018, Kobach lost his bid to be governor, defeated by Democrat Laura Kelly. A staunch Trump ally, Kobach lost by 5 points in a state Trump carried by 20 points just two years earlier.
"Barry Grissom is the strongest Democratic candidate to run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas in a generation, and he looks forward to a General Election race against extremist Kris Kobach," Jerid Kurtz, a representative of the Grissom campaign, told the Journal in reaction to the poll numbers.
Some in the Republican Party are worried Kobach's candidacy for a Senate seat puts the three-seat GOP majority in jeopardy.
"Just last year Kris Kobach ran and lost to a Democrat," Joanna Rodriguez, a spokesperson for NRSC, told CNN shortly after Kobach announced his candidacy. "Now, he wants to do the same and simultaneously put President Trump's presidency and Senate Majority at risk."
Reacting to the poll, Democrats in Kansas seem eager to hand Kobach another statewide defeat.
"Kansans deserve leaders who'll fight for lower health care and prescription drug costs, public schools, and the values of hard work and dignity that unite all Kansans, and what we’re seeing on the ground continues to prove that," Vicki Hiatt, chair of the Kansas Democratic Party, said in a statement.
Some Republicans are hoping Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman, will jump into the race, but thus far he has not.
However, Kobach has does have supporters among some in the Republican Party, including venture capitalist Peter Thiel and conservative author Ann Coulter. Those two are hosting a New York City fundraiser for Kobach.
As Kobach looks forward to another statewide race, he brings plenty of baggage with him. He led Trump's failed "voter fraud" commission, a group that was disbanded after finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election. In a federal court case, Kobach was held in contempt by the judge for failing to properly protect the rights of voters in 2016.
In his bid for governor last year, Kobach hired staff associated with white supremacist movements and saw a former Republican governor of Kansas support his Democratic opponent.
In a statement to the Journal, the Kobach campaign dismissed the leaked poll as "a hypothetical match-up conducted 18 months before the election."
Republicans are fighting to maintain their narrow Senate majority as marquee races in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina have the potential to flip from red to blue.
If Kobach wins the primary and becomes the GOP nominee, election experts may add Kansas to the list of states where Republicans are in trouble.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.