Secretary of State Kris Kobach represents extremism that’s hurt Kansas.
Beyond his obsession with voter fraud that doesn’t exist, he’s called for a replay of bad policies foisted on the state by then-Gov. Sam Brownback — to include reviving a botched income tax-cut experiment and further undermining public education.
It’s left Kansans to decide whether to vote for Kobach, a Republican ill-suited to be governor — just because he’s a Republican — or support a more centrist candidate in Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly or independent Greg Orman, a successful businessman.
A trusted voice in Kansas politics has worked closely with all of the above.
Steve Morris of Hugoton, a moderate Republican and former Kansas Senate president, wrangled with the uncompromising, ideology-driven Kobach and Brownback. So, it wasn’t a surprise earlier this year when Morris said Kelly and Orman would be good governors.
A friend of both, Morris did reiterate his support for Kelly during her recent meet-and-greet event in Garden City.
“We hear a lot, both nationally and in the state about divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats. Kobach is excellent at making that situation worse. And Laura Kelly is one who will help make that so much better,” Morris told those in attendance. “She’s very good at bringing Democrats and Republicans together. She would be a governor for everybody.”
Kelly has indeed cooperated with legislators on both sides of the aisle, to include work toward bipartisan repeal of deep income-tax cuts Brownback sought to spur economic growth that instead drove damaging cuts to schools, roads and other core services.
Orman’s business acumen and ideas for economic growth warrant attention. His running mate, independent state Sen. John Doll of Garden City, is a strong voice for western and rural Kansas. But polls show their campaign far behind.
Those who want Orman to step aside to help Kelly, considered neck-and-neck with Kobach, likely will be disappointed. The independent is out to prove a dysfunctional, two-party system forces voters to choose the lesser of two evils.
Kobach’s extremism may be a threat, as Morris also noted, but the centrism Kelly would deliver is needed in the Statehouse. Voters should agree.
Unfortunately, Kelly and Orman splitting votes among Kansans who reject Kobach only gives the ultraconservative an edge in the race — a grim prospect in a state that cannot afford to go backward.