June 4, 2023

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Budding Bromance Turns Full Partnership as Kobach, Hartman Join Forces

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A budding bromance on display during the Kansas GOP debate has turned into a political partnership. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced today that Wink Hartman will join Kobach’s gubernatorial ticket as his lieutenant governor.

In a sort of second campaign kick-off, Kobach and Hartman announced the partnership  in Topeka this morning before boarding a wrapped RV and heading to Johnson County to repeat the message.

“This is a decision I didn’t take lightly,” Kobach said at a stop in Overland Park.

Kobach and Hartman appeared to hit it off during the first Kansas GOP Governor debate in February, but Hartman suspended his campaign a few days later. He offered his endorsement to Kobach, saying he didn’t want to split the conservative vote.

This morning, Kobach said he wanted to find a campaign partner who shared his values and one who could offer a business perspective.

Hartman owns Hartman Oil Company, several restaurants in Wichita and Hartman Arena in Park City.

“He’s built businesses himself that employ thousands,” Kobach said.

As lieutenant governor, Kobach said Hartman would be tasked with serving as the state’s chief operating officer. His first role would be spending a few months in each agency in the state to provide an audit and find cost savings.

“He’s going to be opening up the guts of the machine,” Kobach said.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach named Wink Hartman as his running mate in a bid for Kansas Governor. Photo courtesy of Craig Campbell

Though Hartman didn’t say which machine–or state agency–he’d start with if elected, he said he looks forward to the opportunity to look under the hood at the Kansas Department of Commerce to help bring business to Kansas.

“Business is in my DNA,” he said.

Hartman told the crowd businesses in Kansas are over regulated, and everyone is affected.

“I understand what real businesses go through,” he said.

The field of Republican candidates for governor has narrowed significantly since Kobach and Hartman debated and recognized they shared many of the same values. Hartman suspended his campaign a few days after the debate. Former state Rep. Mark Hutton has also since dropped out. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Rep. Jim Barnett remain. Selzer and Barnett have yet to announce lieutenant governor candidates. Colyer appointed Tracey Mann lieutenant governor in February.

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