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SPOTLIGHT
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With friends like Kris Kobach ...

Published on -8/20/2013, 9:59 AM

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Remember your mother telling you you are known by the friends you keep? Sure you do.

Now -- admittedly after a day reporting on the state's most fervent Democrats at their mid-year "Demofest" convention in Wichita -- some are wondering whether Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach's enforcement of a new law he got passed to demand proof of citizenship of Kansas voters might just splash back on Gov. Sam Brownback.

OK, that Democrat crowd would have voted to impeach Brownback for using the wrong fork to eat salad. They're a little ... fussy about anything or probably all things Brownback, of course.

But Democrats tend to talk about the "conservative Republican administration" that is running the state now and even though Kobach was elected to statewide office on his own, Brownback is seen as the head of the government, the head of the party -- the man in charge -- and in some manner responsible for Kobach.

This registration business, which now sees maybe 15,000 Kansas in "suspense," or not eligible to vote until they prove citizenship, is a growing issue that will likely see thousands more Kansans become ineligible to vote in the coming months as they renew or apply for drivers' licenses and are asked if they care to register to vote, or move or get married or whatever and need to re-register to vote.

And that's great for Kobach because it's what he wants -- proof of citizenship for voters.

"The state of Kansas takes the citizenship qualification seriously and will enforce it," Kobach said last week.

But it's going to splash back on Brownback, who signed the new voter citizenship bill into law but like many of us who hang out at the Statehouse probably didn't think far enough ahead to see how big an issue it would become.

It truly is like that tough piece of meat that gets bigger the more you chew it.

Give it a couple of months and many of us will know someone, maybe down the block or at work, who has to dig out a birth certificate or passport for those who have one to prove he/she is a genuine American and has a right to vote.

That's when it's likely that people are going to start asking Brownback what he's doing to fix this and they probably won't be satisfied with Brownback saying "that's not my department."

It gets more interesting when one remembers that Brownback virtually abandoned the Kansas Chamber of Commerce's immigrant worker legalization legislation when Kobach started challenging it.

Oh, and there is some information trickling out that there are more Republicans than Democrats being put into that "suspense" category and unable to vote until they prove citizenship, though the vast majority of those in suspense are not affiliated with either party.

Looking for a Brownback/Kobach cage wrestling match over the issue? Democrats would be happy to hold their coats while they battle, but it will likely stop short of that.

This might be an interesting little ... maybe thumb-wrestling match in the next few months if any of those suspense voters have Brownback bumper stickers on their Buicks.

Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report. To learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit www.hawvernews.com

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