GOP voters in Kansas could decide who controls the Senate on Tuesday


If Republican Kris Kobach wins the GOP Senate nomination, he could cost his party control of the chamber, analysts say.

The Republican Senate primary in Kansas on Tuesday could have major implications for control of the chamber, analysts say, arguing that if Republican Kris Kobach wins the nomination he could lose the Senate seat for the GOP for the first time since 1932.

Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, has a host of baggage that could sink him in a general election. That includes support for anti-immigrant policies and attempts at voter suppression, as well as a contempt of court ruling on his effort to force voters to prove their citizenship in order to vote. Kobach also helped run Trump's failed voter fraud commission that did not find any instances of voter fraud.

In fact, Kansas voters rejected Kobach less than two years ago, when he lost a gubernatorial bid in 2018 to now-Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

Republicans fear that a Kobach primary win could lose control of the Senate for the GOP, as Democrats need to net just three seats for control if they win the White House, and four if Donald Trump wins reelection.

Already, Republicans are underdogs in two GOP-held seats in Arizona and Colorado, and are in toss-up races in four more Republican-controlled seats, according to the political handicapping outlet Inside Elections.

A Kobach victory could put yet another seat in play, possibly putting another seat into the Democratic column and losing control of the Senate for Republicans.

"Kris Kobach is such a controversial figure that if he were to win the Republican Senate nomination, it would immediately make that race into a general election tossup," Stu Rothenberg, a veteran nonpartisan political handicapper, said in an interview.

Rothenberg said the Kansas GOP has a pronounced rift between social conservative voters who support Kobach and so-called "establishment" Republican voters who do not. And that could cause problems in a general election for Republicans if Kobach wins.

"Democrats have a good candidate in Barbara Bollier, so that if Kobach is the nominee, it would risk major establishment Republican defections from him over to her, putting the seat in play," Rothenberg said.

Kobach, for his part, faces a crowded GOP primary on Tuesday, though the top contenders aside from Kobach are GOP Rep. Roger Marshall and businessman Bob Hamilton, according to political handicappers.

Kobach has a good shot at victory and used his past support from Trump in a closing ad in the race.

Trump supported Kobach in his failed 2018 gubernatorial bid. And while Trump has not endorsed in the 2020 primary, Kobach ran an ad with Trump's 2018 praise — which could help in a Republican primary.

Democrats, too, have been running ads to in the GOP primary, saying Kobach is "too conservative" and that he "won't compromise on building a wall or getting tough on China."

It's the kind of message that would appeal to Trump supporters, and help boost Kobach's chances.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.