Kansas governor candidates Laura Kelly and Kris Kobach turned to the legal profession Thursday for campaign endorsements that pivoted on clashing evaluations of Kobach’s prowess as an attorney.

About 100 Republican, Democratic and independent lawyers formed a new group to support Kelly, a Topeka Democrat who serves in the Kansas Senate. The organization’s leadership argued Kobach’s legal deficits made him unqualified to serve as governor. The group also criticized Kobach’s “embarrassing” work in an unsuccessful defense of a state law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

“I watched the judge become exasperated and chide Kobach and his team for not knowing ‘Evidence 101.’ I was embarrassed as a Kansas attorney by this incompetent performance,” said Paul Snyder, a Leawood trial attorney and Republican.

In June, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson struck down the citizenship law. She ordered Kobach to enroll in six hours of supplemental continuing education courses to improve his grasp of federal or Kansas civil rules of procedure or evidence. Previously, Robinson found Kobach in contempt and fined him $1,000.

Snyder, an organizer of Kansas Attorneys for Kelly, said the group would post to Twitter information about a different “Kobach attorney flub” every day until the Nov. 6 election.

Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft endorsed the Republican nominee’s campaign for governor. Kobach, who has served nearly eight years as Kansas secretary of state, was at the U.S. Department of Justice in 2001 and 2002. Kobach was a White House fellow and advised Ashcroft on immigration issues.

“He worked at my side to secure America,” said Ashcroft, who also served as governor and U.S. senator from Missouri. “Kris is a man of integrity, strength, honesty -- a resourceful and intelligent leader. He was the architect of crucial anti-terrorism enforcement strategies.”

Last Saturday, President Donald Trump endorsed Kobach at a rally in Topeka. Polling indicates Kelly and Kobach are essentially tied. Independent Greg Orman is a distant third, with Libertarian Jeff Caldwell and independent Rick Kloos far behind.

Kobach, who taught law on the University of Missouri campus in Kansas City, Mo., said the Ashcroft endorsement highlighted his personal commitment to reforming the nation’s immigration system.

“I will take the same initiative that we needed in those critical days in 2001 and put them to work for Kansas as our next governor,” Kobach said.

Orman, a Johnson County businessman running a campaign to challenge dominance of the state’s major political parties, released a plan for improvement of the state’s public education system.

It would align with the Kansas State Board of Education’s initiative, Kansans Can, but rely on long-range funding by expanding the state’s economy and being more efficient with tax dollars, he said.

“Improving the Kansas education system will be my top priority as governor,” Orman said. “I’ve spent the last 27 years in the private sector fixing and managing businesses. I’m the only candidate to run an organization the same scale as our state government. I will grow the Kansas economy and make government more efficient, so we can invest in our schools. I’ll do it without raising taxes.”