Kris Kobach, Jeff Colyer, Wink Hartman, Tracey Mann, Ken Rahjes, and Derek Schmidt. All the heavy hitters on the Kansas GOP ticket rolled into Tiger Burgers at 700 Main Street in Hays on Saturday afternoon to plead with a rally of party faithful to find people to vote.
“Please, please, please, text your friends, relatives, neighbors, people you don’t like, people at church. It is so important,” said Hartman, raising his voice a bit to talk above the excited crowd packed into the popular tiny burger spot.
“Top of the ticket all the way down to the bottom, we have to get everybody included,” he said.
“It has to be a total Republican win.”
Politics was the draw, but football wasn’t forgotten.
“I think it’s halftime of the big game,” said Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann, also noting his Quinter roots. “Last I heard, Fort Hays was up 14-10.”
And the endorsements went beyond candidates.
“It is great to be home,” said Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Hays native. “I’ve got a Tiger Burger on the way here. The ‘Buffalo’ is the best.”
The main theme, however, was repeated when each speaker took the floor.
“We gotta do everything we can, and get our people to vote, so that we can keep Kansas consistent with the values of Kansans,” said Secretary of State Kris Kobach, candidate for governor whose seen four endorsements from previous Republican and Democrat Kansas governors go to his rival. “Please, if you can, think of some few people to text before the end of the day today, maybe after the game’s over.”
Tiger Burgers owner Jacob Proffitt was shaking hands and talking with friends. Proffitt said Tiger Burgers was hosting the rally at the request of his good friend Dustin Roths, Ellis County Republican Party Chairman.
“We’re always about making Hays better and Kansas better,” Proffitt said, speaking of his Tiger Burgers co-owner, who is also his brother, that “David is a big Republican, and I lean that way.”
Outside, a chilly Kansas wind whipped Tiger Burgers’ two flags from its tall flagpole, Old Glory and another, a blue one, that said “Trump.” A big blue Kobach campaign bus parked at the curb, while inside the candidates and politicians won applause and cheers from the crowd.
“K-State has tied TCU as I was walking in,” said incumbent Rep. Ken Rahjes, who is running against Stockton Mayor Kim Thomas for the 110th District seat.
“But truly this is all about turnout,” Rahjes said of the Nov. 6 general election as the crowd stood quiet. “If our friends and neighbors don’t vote, it’s going to be a rough two years or four years.”
As other speakers before him had done, Rahjes also stumped for Ellis County Commissioner Barb Wasinger, who is facing off against longtime Rep. Eber Phelps for his 111th District seat.
“We need Barb in the House,” Rahjes punctuated, as he stood at the front with Wasinger beside him. “We absolutely need Barb in the House.”
The Saturday rally will be energizing for both of them if they make it to Topeka, he indicated.
“But we have to get Barb over the hump,” he said. “One more phone call, one more conversation at church tomorrow. Say, ‘Hey, go out and vote. Vote for Barb. And if you need a ride, I’ll take you.’”
Wasinger approved, piping up with “Vote red!”
“From dog catcher on up,” agreed Cindy Slattery, La Crosse, calling a response from the front row in a Kobach supporter T-shirt.
“The last thing we’re going to do, is the blue wave is going to get stopped by a red wall,” Rahjes continued. “And the Ellis County red wall is going to be strong and tall. And it starts with Barb and goes up. We need a Republican governor folks.”
Colyer also carried the message.
“We need to make sure we get this done up and down the ballot,” he said, adding later in his remarks. “We do need you to get out and get people to vote.”
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, running this year to keep his office, noted to laughter, “Nobody needs to sleep between now and Tuesday. Just get out and get it done.”
Saying that the candidates were in Ellis County to be on their home turf, Kobach commented they had started the day in Cloud County.
“This part of the state is strong territory for Republicans,” he said. “It’s every vote that you can find. Your friends, your neighbors, whatever, that vote is balancing out a vote in Lawrence, Kansas. We have got to get votes out here.”
Saying the consequences are huge, he said the election is one of stark differences from his rival, Democratic candidate Sen. Laura Kelly.
“It is an election of huge contrasts,” he said. “So we’ve got to win this thing.”