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Trump Ally Kris Kobach Wins Primary For Kansas Governor, As GOP Incumbent Concedes

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and his wife Heather Kobach, speak to supporters after last week's Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary.
Steve Pope
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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and his wife Heather Kobach, speak to supporters after last week's Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a staunch ally of President Trump, has won the state's razor-thin Republican primary for governor after incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded on Tuesday night.

"This election is probably the closest in America, but the numbers are just not there unless we were to go to extraordinary measures," Colyer said.

Colyer's decision comes a week after the bitter contest between the two concluded. According to the Kansas City Star, Kobach was leading Colyer by only 345 votes after 85 of the state's 105 counties counted their provisional ballots. After Johnson County, the state's largest, counted its ballots and failed to narrow the gap, Colyer decided to concede.

The governor said he wouldn't challenge the result in court nor ask for a recount, and that he had called to congratulate Kobach and underscore he's committed to keeping the seat in GOP hands.

Kobach, the more conservative of the two, had the backing of Trump and attracted national attention as the driving force behind the president's controversial voter fraud commission, which failed to find any proof of unsubstantiated allegations from Trump that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 elections. Kobach has backed strict voter ID laws and hardline immigration measures.

Colyer was lieutenant governor until he took over for Gov. Sam Brownback, whom Trump appointed as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. But Brownback's approval ratings had already dippedamid a worsening fiscal crisis, giving Democrats an opening in the deeply conservative state.

With the polarizing Kobach at the top of the ticket, Democrats now see even more of a chance to flip the governor's mansion, or at least hope that the GOP nominee could be a drag further down the ballot, where several congressional seats are within reach for the party.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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