The defection of longtime Republican Steve Baccus to the gubernatorial campaign of independent Greg Orman illustrates how divisive Kris Kobach is to the Kansas Republican Party.
Baccus is best known in these parts as the popular past president of Kansas Farm Bureau from 2002 to 2014, who for the past six months worked as campaign chairman for Gov. Jeff Colyer in his bid to secure the partys nomination for governor. As an organization, Farm Bureau trends conservative, and endorsed Colyer. It has yet to announce its endorsement of any candidate since the Aug. 7 primary.
Baccuss support for Orman is the first clear indication that the Overland Park businessman will siphon Republican moderates away from Democratic nominee Laura Kelly. The danger then is that conservative Republicans will have enough votes to deliver the election to Kobach.
Despite Kobach being a magnet for controversy, the odds remain in his favor simply because Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-to-1 in Kansas. The only hope for either Orman or Kelly is that the high number of Kansans who claim no party membership, which is about a third of registered voters, would put their lot en masse behind one or the other and that high numbers of Republican moderates like Baccus will defect.
KOBACHS greatest threat is himself as word spreads of his less than charitable opinion of minorities and immigrants.
As a paid columnist for the far-right website Breitbart News, Kobach has disparaged refugees and immigrants by falsely claiming they commit a disproportionate share of crime despite evidence to the opposite.
He also has been linked to white supremacists and nationalists.
A popular campaign sticker accuses Kobach of being in league with the Ku Klux Klan.
Kobachs has worked as legal counsel for John Tanton of the fearmongering Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR has been singled out as a hate-filled organization whose intent is to demonize all immigrants, legal and illegal, in an effort to create a more homogenous society. Besides being on Tantons payroll, Kobach has also received $10,000 in campaign contributions from Tantons wife.
Kobach also was for hire by Joe Arpaio, the infamous sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, (thankfully defeated Tuesday in a race for Congress) to train Arpaios staff on (anti-) immigration law.
That Arpaio is a free man is thanks to President Trump, who pardoned him after he was convicted of violating the civil rights of Latino citizens.
SO FOR BACCUS to defect from the GOP, at least temporarily, is no great surprise. Look for more upright Kansans to do the same.
Stay connected to the stories and events that make your community a special place to call home.
Subscriptions start at $14.90/month.View subscription options
- Unmatched coverage of Allen County’s local news and sports, a tradition dating back to 1867
- Compelling portraits of our residents, experienced reporting and thoughtful analysis
- Unlimited online access to iolaregister.com and our archives