Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded his narrow defeat in the GOP primary to Secretary of State Kris Kobach after watching the margin between them widen Tuesday as more provisional ballots were added to unofficial results.
With his wife, daughters and running mate, Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann, at his side, Colyer invoked the advice of his parents, reflected on his brief tenure as governor and offered support for his Republican adversary.
“The numbers are just not there, unless we were to go to extraordinary measures,” Colyer said. “But Kansas is too important. The people of Kansas are too important. Our children are too important. Tracey and I will not challenge this in court, nor will we be asking for a recount. Right here and now, we will endorse the winner, Kris Kobach.”
Colyer’s chances of staging a comeback dwindled Tuesday, when Kobach’s lead swelled to 345 votes after several of the state’s largest counties updated their totals.
The two spent the past several months locked in a heated campaign for the GOP crown, punctuated by an exchange of terse letters last week over Kobach’s role in overseeing the election.
“He was incredibly gracious, and that meant a lot after such a hard-fought campaign,” Kobach said. “I want to thank Gov. Jeff Colyer for a race well run. He was a worthy opponent, and I thank him sincerely for his service to the state of Kansas. I will work hard to advance our shared values.”
Kobach urged Republicans to unite behind him or risk falling further behind in the general election race with state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, and independent Greg Orman.
“It’s absolutely essential that we march together,” Kobach said. “Whenever Republicans in Kansas are separated, Republicans in Kansas lose.”
He said President Donald Trump’s endorsement a day before the election proved to be “absolutely crucial” because Colyer held an advantage among advance ballots while Kobach won the election day vote.
Kelly said Kobach is the last thing Kansas needs following two terms of former Gov. Sam Brownback, who vacated the office in late January to take an ambassador post in the administration of President Donald Trump.
“With Kris Kobach as Governor, Kansans get all of the failed policies of Sam Brownback plus Kobach’s unique brand of hyper-partisanship and self-promotion,” Kelly said. “Quite simply, Kris Kobach is Sam Brownback on steroids, and that’s the last thing that Kansans need right now.”