Kris Kobach launched a statewide tour Wednesday in his campaign for governor with a promise to bring full-throttle conservatism to state government and the introduction of Wichita businessman Wink Hartman as his running mate.
With his wife, five daughters and the family dog at his side, Kobach lamented the “massive mess” the next governor will inherit, referencing tax increases, corruption in state agencies and accusations of sexual harassment in the Statehouse. His comments on a brisk morning outside the Great Overland Station in Topeka kicked off a series of campaign stops on a four-day tour.
“The insiders are winning,” Kobach said. “But guess what? The score’s going to change now in the second half.”
Kobach has been a fixture in Kansas politics for the past decade, serving as the chairman of the Kansas Republican Party before winning two terms as secretary of state. He said his political career was altered by his experience working in the U.S. Justice Department following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
If the law enforcement officers who stopped several of the hijackers for traffic infractions had known they were here illegally and came from “high-risk regions,” Kobach said, they could have arrested them.
As secretary of state, he promised to make Kansas elections the most secure, and he delivered with voter identification and proof of citizenship laws.
“It hasn’t made the ACLU happy, but that tells me I did the right thing,” Kobach said.
A seven-day trial in which American Civil Liberties Union challenged him to prove claims of widespread voter fraud concluded Monday. Kobach said he didn’t think the trial will have an impact on his campaign.
If elected, Kobach said he will work to roll back tax increases and make across-the-board cuts at state agencies. Hartman, who dropped out of the GOP field of gubernatorial candidates last month, would have the unprecedented role as lieutenant governor of acting like an auditor in an agency-by-agency review.
Hartman promised to bring a “healthy dose of fresh blood and outsider thinking.”
“Kris and I are fed up,” Hartman said. “It’s time to reverse some of these mistakes from the past.”
Kobach said he doesn’t support the conclusion of a recent consultant report that says lawmakers need to add $2 billion annually in school funding within the next five years. Based on briefings from his staff, Kobach said the methodology and basis for the report is flawed.
“Hopefully, the Legislature will do what’s right for the taxpayers of Kansas,” Kobach said.”