No conservative incumbent is safe in Kansas—not even Kris Kobach, who occupies the usually unnoticed position of Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is a minor position in charge of administering elections, and when Kobach ran for it in 2010, he won by a 22-point margin. Four years later and things look very different, via the NYT:
Now he faces an unexpectedly tough re-election fight in deeply Republican Kansas, where many think the party may have gone too far. It is the same wave threatening to swamp Gov. Sam Brownback.
“They moved too far to the right,” said Marc White, a lawyer who came to a candidates’ forum last week in Topeka, the state capital, where Mr. Kobach spoke. “We’re a Republican state, don’t get me wrong. But you’re going to have a backlash to the more extreme policies.” […]Asked if he could be collateral damage in the anti-Brownback wave this year, he said, “It’s an interesting question, as a former academic who likes to study these things.”
Kobach is controversial in his own right, having pushed through new voter ID restrictions that the Government Accountability Office claims has suppressed voter turnout in the state by 1.9 percent. Kobach defends the restrictions as necessary to tamp down voter fraud and prevent illegal immigrants from voting, but critics say it has mostly just kept legal Democratic voters from the polls. He’s been accused of tampering with elections in other ways as well, as the NYT story explains.Still, it appears being linked to the “Brownback revolution” hasn’t helped any either. That step to the hard right is now backfiring so much that it’s threatening to sweep not only Brownback out of office, but also his allies. As we noted before, politics in Kansas is complicated, where coalitions of moderates and conservatives are more important than the established two national parties. Still, if Brownback’s revolution has become so unpopular it is threatening the future of downticket candidates, that’s not a very encouraging sign for any who looked to his tenure as a promising Red Dawn in the heart of the country.