Politics & Government

Challenge to Kobach’s narrow win is thrown out. Deciding panel is led by a supporter

Kansas GOP gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach (left) shook hands with Gov. Jeff Colyer during an event to show unity between the candidates after a close primary race in August.
Kansas GOP gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach (left) shook hands with Gov. Jeff Colyer during an event to show unity between the candidates after a close primary race in August. blowry@kcstar.com

A challenge to Kris Kobach’s narrow win in the Republican primary for Kansas governor was thrown out Monday by a panel whose leader works for Kobach in the Kansas Secretary of State’s office.

The complaint from Davis Hammet, director of Loud Light, a Kansas-based civic engagement organization, centered on certain votes not being counted.

That included advance mail ballots that were rejected over questions about signatures and Republican ballots cast by unaffiliated voters. Votes thrown out in Johnson County played a key role in the argument.

The state objections board, which was led by Eric Rucker and included officials with the attorney general and lieutenant governor’s offices, rejected the complaint. The board said Hammet did not provide enough evidence to change the outcome of the election.

“It was this wild tap dancing to try to dismiss my legitimate claims and not have to deal with them,” Hammet said.

Hammet’s complaint reignited issues surrounding Kobach’s narrow 343-vote win over Gov. Jeff Colyer in the August GOP primary. Though he later endorsed Kobach, Colyer’s campaign team voiced similar concerns before its candidate conceded the race.

Kobach turned over his election duties to Rucker after the outcry over Kobach’s role in a possible recount as the state’s chief election official.

Rucker has donated to Kobach’s campaign and wore a Kobach campaign shirt at the gubernatorial debate at the state fair last weekend.

An effort by Hammet for Rucker to recuse himself failed.

“Whether it concerns me or not is not the issue,” Rucker said of any appearance of impropriety. “What should concern the people of the state of Kansas is whether or not we’re following the law, and we’re following the law.”

The attorney representing the Kobach campaign in the Monday hearing was Michael Roman, a former Trump administration official.

The Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman contributed to this report.
  Comments