The race for Kansas Governor is down by one. Wichita businessman Wink Hartman suspended his campaign today.
In a letter to supporters, Hartman said he didn’t want to be a spoiler in a crowded Republican primary for Governor. He sparred with three other candidates–Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, and former state Rep. Mark Hutton–during a forum last weekend. Gov. Jeff Colyer was scheduled to appear, but fell ill hours before the event.
During the debate, Hartman said he listened.
“I listened,” Hartman said in his announcement. “And I quickly came to the conclusion that I could be the spoiler in this race for the conservative values we hold so dear.”
Recent polls suggest Hartman trailed Kobach and Colyer. A poll conducted by Kansas City, Missouri-based Remington Research Group showed Colyer leading the pack of likely voters at 23 percent with Kobach right behind him at 21 percent. Former state Rep. Jim Barnett earned 8 percent in the poll and Hartman polled at 5 percent. Another poll, commissioned by the Convention of States Project, showed Kobach leading the field with 26 percent, followed by Colyer at 20 percent. Hartman boasted 6 percent. Kobach said an internal poll from his campaign gave Kobach a 28 percent edge to Colyer’s 21 percent. It was conducted prior to Hartman’s announcement.
“I’ve always said this race isn’t about me or my resume–it’s about taking our conservative platform and making it into a policy to improve the lives of all Kansans,” Hartman wrote in his letter to supporters.
The Wichita businessman endorsed Kobach sparking the insinuation that Hartman may become lieutenant governor candidate on a Kobach ticket. Hartman told the Kansas City Star that isn’t on the table right now, but Kobach isn’t ruling it out.
“We haven’t made any final decisions on a running mate,” the Secretary of State told the Sentinel. “The possibilities have now broadened slightly.”
The most important characteristic Kobach seeks in a running mate is one who shares his values.
“I’m looking for someone with whom I can work, and most importantly, I am looking for someone who is a rock solid conservative,” he said. “God forbid something happened to me, I would want to ensure that Kansas is in the hands of a very conservative successor as Governor. That’s the bottom line.”
He called Hartman a “true Kansas success story.”
“He’s a very successful businessman, and I’m delighted he’s willing to help out with our campaign. Having his advice and counsel on business issues will be really helpful,” Kobach said.