Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he talked with President Donald Trump following the Nov. 6 general election, but he declined to engage with the intense speculation over his future.
Kobach is considered a strong candidate for a position at the White House because of his strong ties to the president, who said in a Topeka rally in October that he wanted Kobach in Washington.
The outgoing secretary of state, who lost the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly, indicated Friday he would finish serving out his term. He said he has talked with Trump by phone but wouldn’t say when or what they talked about.
“I’m not looking for random federal jobs,” Kobach said, “but if the president were to call and ask me to serve, that’s a different matter.”
Kobach, who led the president’s short-lived voter fraud commission and received a decisive presidential endorsement on the eve of the primary, said he has advised Trump during his presidency on an informal basis.
With a Cabinet shakeup afoot, Kobach’s name has surfaced in connection with the departure of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and rumored firings of Homeland Security director Kirstjen Nielsen and chief of staff John Kelly. Earlier this year, Kobach said he turned down positions at Homeland Security and as a White House adviser so he could run for governor.
He declined to say what positions he might covet.
“There are lots of things,” Kobach said. “Many people have suggested certain things. My wife and I are taking it easy right now. We’re praying about it. We’re enjoying the holiday season, and we’ll see what turns up.”
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Democrat from Topeka, said Kansas would be better off without Kobach.
The adversaries have exchanged harsh criticism in the past, with Kobach saying the longtime senator is the poster child for term limits and Hensley describing his Republican antagonist as the country’s most racist politician, with the possible exception of Trump.
“Kobach will be perfectly suited to serve in a corrupt and immoral administration,” Hensley said.
Kobach’s rise in national prominence coincided with his zealous interest in fighting illegal immigration and imposing voting restrictions, such as the now defunct requirement to show a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
He landed a spot as vice chairman of the president’s commission on election integrity, which disbanded in January after meeting twice and failing to produce evidence that supported Kobach’s claims of widespread voter fraud.
On the campaign trail, Kelly avoided getting mired in an immigration debate with Kobach, hammering her opponent instead as the second coming of former Gov. Sam Brownback, who remains widely loathed by voters.
Kobach said he isn’t bothered by criticism from Republicans who complained about his campaign approach.
“The Monday morning quarterbacks never give you the advice prior to the game,” Kobach said. “They always come back after the game and say, ‘Well, if I were in charge, I would have done it this way.’ So no, it doesn’t bother me. It happens after every election.”
A position in the Trump administration now seems inevitable. A month before the November election, Trump told supporters in Topeka he wanted to bring Kobach into his administration.
“I hope he loses,” Trump said, “because I want him so badly.”