Writing for the McClatchy news syndicate, Brian Lowry makes the fairly astonishing claim that President Trump “picked” Kris Kobach to be the Kansas GOP candidate for governor and wonders whom, if anyone, he will “pick” to be the next U.S. Senator.
The headline says as much, “Trump picked Kansas Republicans’ governor candidate. Will he do it again for Senate?”
The word “picked” in this context ignores at least eight years of Kansas history. As one point of reference out of many, consider the Olathe GOP picnic in the summer of 2017. When organizers used “Olathe Lives Matter” as a theme for its annual Faith & Freedom picnic, the Star called various GOP officials hoping to shame them into staying away.
Although some officials yielded to the pressure, Secretary of State Kobach not only showed up to speak, but he also went on to win the event’s straw poll for governor. Kobach netted 75 percent of the vote, handily beating the other four listed candidates. Wink Hartman came in a distant second with 15 percent.
At this point, the impeccably credentialed Kobach did not need to be picked for anything by anyone. He was the clear GOP frontrunner. He had emerged as a national expert on illegal immigration and vote fraud long before anyone knew Donald Trump was a Republican.
Shortly before the primary election, Trump tweeted his endorsement of Kobach, but this surprised no one. Donald Trump Jr. had come to Kansas to speak on Kobach’s behalf and Kobach had worked closely with the president. Had Trump not endorsed Kobach it would have been newsworthy.
In the week before the Republican primary, before Trump’s endorsement, the national TV networks were salivating for a hoped-for Kobach defeat. ABC’s Jon Karl described Kobach as “controversial candidate Kris Kobach, a hard-right, staunchly anti-immigration candidate” and predicted his support for Trump would cost him the election.
Over on CBS, the announcer in-studio called Kobach a “hard right conservative.” The field reporter agreed, adding that Kobach held “incredibly conservative positions on immigration.” USA Today ungraciously headlined its story on Kobach’s victory, “Republicans have a Kobach problem and, like Trump, it’s not going away soon.”
According to the USA Today, “The Kansas secretary of state is a regular John the Baptist of flim-flam. He’s the original Javert of voter fraud and such a forerunner on feeding animus against immigrants that he was down on them them before it was cool.”
After Kobach’s narrow victory in the primary, when it appeared that the Trump endorsement put him over the top, all three morning news shows fell quiet.
Given this background, it is impossible to take anything McClatchy or others in the media say about Trump’s potential involvement in the Senate race. The one thing that can be said with certainty is that the president will not “pick” the GOP nominee. That individual Kansas Republicans will pick themselves.