Purchase photos

Morgan to challenge incumbent Kobach

7/27/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been confronted by an election challenger within his own party.

Scott Morgan, a Lawrence database editor, will be on the Aug. 5 Republican primary ballot.

Morgan said he wishes to restore the office's non-partisan agenda and focus on its responsibilities. Kobach has made strict voter laws a crusade in Kansas, and he serves as a lawyer for national clients pursuing similar laws.

"I'm trying to get that across to Republicans out there that we can't turn this into a partisan war office," Morgan said.

Drawing on his experience operating a publishing business for 17 years before he sold it, Morgan wants to update the secretary of state's office. The position is responsible for elections and filings for business and government matters.

"I have a lot of ideas in how we can make that more efficient," he said. "That's not terribly exciting to most people, but it really is what that job is, and (Kobach) has no interest in that."

Requiring more documents for voter registration has left approximately 19,000 people unable to vote, Morgan said. Kobach has boasted 72 percent of people were able to register.

"I'm trying to get back to where voting is viewed as a right, not a privilege, not something the government gives to you if you're one of the chosen ones," Morgan said.

Kobach's national reputation is "embarrassing" for Kansans, Morgan said. Voter fraud has been identified as an almost non-existent problem, but the secretary of state uses fear tactics to disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters.  

"Kobach seems eager to spread this fear, this loathing, this hate," he said.

Morgan's resume includes serving on Senator Bob Dole's staff AND representing the U.S. Senate on the Federal Election Commission.

Morgan also worked for former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden as chief counsel.

Chapman Rackaway, political science professor at Fort Hays State University, said Morgan will struggle with name recognition.

"Kobach is a massive force in Kansas politics," Rackaway said. "He is a divisive figure who looms large over the Kansas political landscape."

Primaries tend to favor the most "extreme" candidates in a party, Rackaway said.