Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer placed exclamation points on their tense gubernatorial battle by expending a combined $3.1 million to influence Republican primary voters and outspending by nearly four times the entire slate of Democratic candidates in the governor's race, the latest campaign finance reports revealed Tuesday.
Kobach, who hosted musician Ted Nugent and Donald Trump Jr. at campaign fundraisers, was the big spender in the GOP contingent by leveraging $1.9 million in an effort to snatch the GOP nomination from Colyer's grasp. The secretary of state raised $1.6 million from January to July, but $1.5 million of that amount was a loan from his running mate, Wink Hartman.
Colyer invested $1.2 million in an attempt to remain governor after assuming that role in January upon resignation of Gov. Sam Brownback. There were no personal loans to Colyer's campaign, a departure from his willingness to loan $500,000 to the Brownback re-election effort in 2014 while serving as lieutenant governor.
"I am humbled that our message of strong, optimistic, competent conservative leadership has resonated so well with Kansans," Colyer said.
The required campaign reports were submitted by candidates by the midnight Monday deadline and published online by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commissioner. The filings of other GOP gubernatorial candidates showed Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer spent $388,000 and loaned himself $285,000. Candidate Patrick Kucera spent $320,000 and himself contributed $304,000. Former Sen. Jim Barnett expended $237,000 and logged $505,000 in loans to himself.
Independent Greg Orman, who plans to earn a place on the November ballot through a petition process, spent $860,000 to make his presence felt during the partisan primary ending Aug. 7. The wealthy businessman donated $650,000 to his own campaign.
"I've pledged not to take a dime from PACs or lobbyists and the special interests that control both parties and their candidates," Orman said. "I've kept that pledge and my personal contributions to this campaign show my commitment to always putting this state and its people first."
State Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat with the backing of former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, spent $491,000 on her primary campaign through July, which was more than combined expenditures of rival Democrats Josh Svaty, Carl Brewer and Arden Andersen.
Kelly said she raised $572,000 since January from 3,500 donors. Eighty percent of the donations were for $100 or less and 98 percent came from individuals, she said.
"I'm honored to have the support of such a broad and diverse group of Kansans," she said. "From Lakin to Hays to Dodge City to Pittsburg to Olathe, working men and women are ready for change."
Svaty, a former state legislator and state agriculture secretary, had $35,000 in his campaign treasury at the end of July. He raised cash in all 105 counties and most contributions were under $30.
"We are supported by a true grassroots movement of people in Kansas who are looking for positive change and new leadership," said spokesman Mike Swenson.
Brewer, the former Wichita mayor, said expenditures by the Kelly and Svaty campaigns failed to convince voters either was capable of generating support necessary to win in November. He criticized Svaty's votes in the House against a woman's right to choose on abortion and Kelly's vote in the Senate for a "voter suppression ID law" championed by Kobach.
"Voters have had the chance to know me and see that I will stand up to Donald Trump, Kris Kobach and anyone else who tries to limit the rights and quality of life of Kansans," Brewer said.
View our 2018 Primary Voters Guide at https://issuu.com/tcj5/docs/tcj_2018_07_15?e=15618686/63406509 or see it below.