Elections

Sam Brownback endorses Marco Rubio for president

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., gives a thumbs-up after a campaign stop, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Easley, S.C.
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., gives a thumbs-up after a campaign stop, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Easley, S.C. Associated Press

Gov. Sam Brownback has endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for president with less than a month before the Kansas caucuses.

Brownback joins U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, in supporting the Florida Republican’s bid for the White House in the crowded GOP field.

The governor cited the freshman senator’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act and stance on abortion as reasons for his support. He also hailed Rubio as a “a true conservative who can unite the party and defeat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the fall.

“In the past, conservatives have been forced to make a choice between their head and their hearts. This year, we are fortunate to not have to make that choice. Marco Rubio has a proven track record of protecting life, defending religious liberty, and undoing Obamacare,” Brownback said in a statement released by the Rubio campaign. “He will be a wonderful President, and I am proud to offer him my full support.”

Brownback, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination in 2008, had been tight-lipped in recent month about whether he would endorse a candidate for president, but his son-in-law, Eric Teetsel, works for Rubio as his faith outreach director, which had prompted speculation that he would support the senator’s candidacy as the Kansas caucuses approached.

Chapman Rackaway, a political scientist at Fort Hays State University, thinks Brownback’s endorsement could hold some sway. “Sure, Brownback’s poll numbers are low. But among conservative Republicans – the 5% of the voting public that goes out to caucuses – he has strong support and that may end up rallying a good number of undecided conservatives behind Rubio,” Rackaway said in an e-mail.

Kansas Republicans and Democrats will each cast their votes at caucus meetings held around the state on March 5.

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3

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