Kansas gubernatorial campaign of Kris Kobach is drawing preemptive scorn after setting the stage for a campaign endorsement from Ted Nugent -- the head-banging and political-correctness flaunting Motor City Madman.
Secretary of State Kobach, in a quest to draw attention and cash to his bid for the Republican Party's nomination, invited musician and firearms enthusiast Nugent to a weekend campaign fundraiser in Lenexa. Nugent is expected to sing a few songs while accompanying himself on guitar before a sit-down chat with Kobach, a discussion likely to revolve around the joy of firearms, defects inherent in liberals and attributes of the host.
"He is the most well-known spokesman for gun rights and the Second Amendment in the United States," Kobach said in an interview. "He brings excitement to the campaign. It will be fun."
Kobach promised fans of either politics and music who shell out for tickets something other than an "uptight campaign event" at 2 p.m. Saturday in Lenexa Community Center.
Don't expect the type of singalong led by former U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Kansas Democrat who favored the acoustic guitar and gentle folk classics at political rallies.
Nugent's rock 'n' roll popularity was built, in part, on a 1977 tune, "Cat Scratch Fever," which chronicled sexual adventures of a 10-year-old. A few years later, Nugent released the song, "Jailbait" regarding underage sex with a 13-year-old.
Wichita Rep. Jim Ward, the Kansas House's Democratic leader, said Nugent's record as a performer and pundit was littered with offensive moments.
"If you don't like Ted Nugent's music, don't buy it," said Ward, who dropped out of the governor's race in May. "This says more about Kris Kobach than Ted Nugent. He's holding Ted Nugent up as a role model. People should know what the values are of Ted Nugent."
In addition a career that led to sales of 30 million records, Nugent became a conservative commentator on public affairs. As a member of the National Rifle Association's board, Nugent has denounced student activists weary of gun violence in schools. Some of his statements about Democrats have been viewed as repellent, including characterization of Barack Obama as a "subhuman mongrel" during a 2014 event.
Critics of the Detroit musician have labeled some of his political remarks about immigration, race, homosexuality and other topics as unenlightened. In 1990, he said during a discussion of apartheid in South Africa that "men are not created equal." On a personal level, Nugent had a relationship with a teenager from Hawaii that involved him legally becoming her guardian. The affair was listed by Spin magazine as the No. 63 sleaziest moment in rock.
In a promotional email to Kobach's supporters, Nugent said election of Kobach in November would deliver "a real governor to lead your state." Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Republican campaigning for the GOP nomination, replaced Gov. Sam Brownback in February.
"I pray to God every state has a leader like Kris Kobach," Nugent said. "Kansas, it's time to show the rest of the nation how it is done."
A spokeswoman for Laura Kelly, a Topeka state senator competing for the Democratic Party's nomination for governor, said the injection of Nugent into the campaign would drive the "type of divisive, over-the-top rhetoric that Kansans are so tired of seeing in Topeka."
"Marketing this as a 'family values' event shows what Kris Kobach really stands for by aligning himself with someone who holds Nugent's despicable views," said Kelly spokeswoman Johanna Warshaw. "Laura is running to change the tone of our politics and put the focus on the needs of families in Kansas -- like better schools and affordable health care."
Former state treasurer and legislator Dennis McKinney, a conservative Democrat, said Kobach's invitation to Nugent was in conflict with Kobach's expression of Christian values and the fact Kobach had a family with young children.
"If a Democrat was bringing him in, they would be on him like white on rice, attacking him for family values," McKinney said.
In the interview, Kobach said he would consider asking Nugent during the campaign event's question-and-answer period to discuss elements of his career that raised alarms.
"He's rebutted them," the secretary of state said. "I'm a fan of Ted Nugent's music."