Sunday, August 12, 2018

Kansas' Contentious GOP Gubernatorial Primary Drags on

Kevin Surbaugh

Republican Governor Race still to close to call.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach (left) and Governor Jeff Colyer (right)
As the Republican race for Governor, continues, without a clear winner, a war of words, as it were, mounts between Governor Jeff Colyer, who took over for Governor Sam Brownback, when the later left to join President Trump's administration,  and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The two, who are both vying for the Republican nomination for Governor, were separated by only 191 votes when counting was finished election night.   Which prompted the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to issue a statement, in which it stated that the Kansas Republicans were looking for a merciful end to the race between Colyer and Kobach.  At the time of the statement there 191 votes separating the two.  That was before discrepancies in the vote counts arose which initially narrowed that lead to just 91.

 In the statement DGA Spokesperson said,
 “Kansas voters don’t need to wait for the ugly Colyer-Kobach fight to finish because either one of them would be four more years of Sam Brownback’s terrible policies,” said DGA Spokesman Alex Japko. “Sam Brownback ran the state’s economy into the ground, and both Kobach and Colyer have pledged to double down on his policies. Laura Kelly is the only candidate in this race who will bring real change to move Kansas beyond the Brownback years once and for all.”

In his own statement, Colyer told the media that,
Given the historically close margin of the current tabulation, the presence of thousands of as yet uncounted provisional ballots and the extraordinary problems with the count, particularly in Johnson County, this election remains too close to call. In the 2014 primary, 6333 provisional ballots were cast. The current margin is 0.06%. This is the equivalent of a 2 vote margin in a 5000 vote race with hundreds of votes left to count. We are committed to ensuring that every legal vote is counted accurately throughout the canvassing process. - Jeff Colyer
On Wednesday and again on Thursday, Colyer called on Kobach to recuse himself from overseeing the vote counting. Kobach as Secretary of State is the chief election officer for the state.  His office must count and ensure an accurate count.  In that role, Kobach has campaigned and spoke many times about the prevalence of voter fraud in the state.
In a letter Colyer sent to Kobach, he said,
I believe that the designation of the Attorney General as a neutral party to advise county election  officials on these matters will help ensure the confidence of the voting public in the outcome of the primary  election.  Inasmuch  as  you  are  a  licensed  attorney,  I  also  want  you  to  be  comfortabl e  that  your  role  is  consistent  with  Kansas  Rule  of  Professional  Responsibility 1.7(a)(2) , which  prohibits  an  attorney  from  giving advice in a matter in which they are personally interested. 
The letter also said that every legal vote should be counted, saying if Kansans took the time to vote, they deserve to have their ballots counted.  Calling it unacceptable that Kobach advised county clerks to ignore mail-in ballots, that were clearly postmarked by Tuesday to be cast out if they were not received by Tuesday.  Kobach on his part had refused to recuse himself on Wednesday, but late Thursday Kobach changed his mind as those discrepancies narrow his lead to just .04%.  At the end of Friday, with mail-in ballots counted Kobach lead by just 110 votes in the unofficial results. The board of canvassers in each of the 105 counties will begin certifying the votes this week.  Here in Douglas County, that Canvass will occur in the County Commission chambers on Thursday, August 16.

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