Conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s endorsement in the Kansas gubernatorial race elicited a testy response Wednesday from one of the Republican candidates not championed by the talk show host.
Hannity, appearing on a segment of Fox News Radio, said he was prepared to endorse Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the state’s GOP primary. Hannity also offered Tuesday to withhold the pledge if a Hannity endorsement might damage Kobach’s political prospects.
“I am supporting your effort unless you tell me not to,” Hannity said.
“Are you kidding?” Kobach said. “I welcome your endorsement any day of the week.”
Kobach’s campaign put out a news release highlighting the exchange with Hannity, which included a the talk show host’s suggestion Kobach secure a job in the nation’s capital.
“Why don’t you go to Washington instead?” Hannity said. “I’d rather see you in Washington.”
That portion of the interview captured the attention of Mark Hutton, a former state representative from Wichita who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor
Hutton said in a statement Kobach “nominally” served as secretary of state while devoting time to private legal clients, the national election commission set up by President Donald Trump and appearances on news shows.
“Even Sean Hannity agrees — Kris Kobach is running for the wrong job,” Hutton said. “Kansas needs leadership focused on solving problems in our state government and building a better Kansas, not another politician who is only seeking the next rung on their political ladder.”
Kobach said public officials at the state and federal levels had important responsibilities, but argued governors possessed the power to swiftly implement reforms.
“As governor,” Kobach said, “you can actually make a lot of change and do it quickly.”
The Republican gubernatorial field also includes Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, Wichita residents Wink Hartman and Ed O’Malley, and former Sen. Jim Barnett.