It looks like the Republican establishment is serious about denying former Secretary of State and losing 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach the US Senate nomination.
A newly formed organization called Plains PAC just launched what appears to be a $3 million negative media buy against Kobach with a hard-hitting ad in a build-up to the August 4th primary election. Democrats believe they have a chance to steal what should be a safely Republican seat if Kobach becomes the nominee, and polling suggests they are correct. Western Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) is the candidate with the best chance to deny Kobach the party nomination.
To date, the talk surrounding the Kansas Senate race had been whether US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) can stop former Secretary of State and 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach from winning the Republican nomination.
We now see a change in Dr. Marshall’s latest ad strategy, however. Kansas City plumbing company owner Bob Hamilton, who has advertised in the state’s largest market for years and has invested $2 million of his own money into his Senate campaign, is the focus of the Congressman’s most recent attack and not Mr. Kobach. Clearly, the Marshall campaign believes Mr. Hamilton is becoming a significant competitor. The ad script attacks Hamilton for supporting Hillary Clinton, opposing President Trump, and never financially supporting any Republican candidate other than himself.
For months, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner has been challenging freshman Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Topeka) in the Republican primary. Just as the candidate filing deadline was expiring a surprise candidate joined the race.
Former Kansas Department of Administration director and previous congressional candidate (1982) Dennis Taylor is now the third candidate in the race. Rep. Watkins is vulnerable in this primary, and the addition of Mr. Taylor could actually help him win re-nomination with just a plurality.
This is an August 4th primary to watch. The general election looks to be competitive as well. Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
State Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) ended her US Senate campaign yesterday. State Republican Party chairman Mike Kuckelman last week had asked all candidates but Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) to leave the race in order not to split the vote. A crowded field situation theoretically would make it easier for former Secretary of State and failed 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach to therefore win the Senate nomination with plurality support.
The Kansas Senate race is an interesting one in that Democrats believe they can be competitive in what is normally a solid Republican domain if the GOP nominates Mr. Kobach. They successfully defeated Kobach in the 2018 gubernatorial election and polling suggests they would have a chance to repeat that performance in this year’s Senate race.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a new Kansas poll (5/17-19; 506 KS likely general election voters) pairing both Rep. Marshall and Mr. Kobach individually against consensus Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier, a party-switching state Senator who represents the Mission Hills area. The data finds Rep. Marshall leading Sen. Bollier, 46-35%, which is a typical range for a Kansas Senate race at this point in the election cycle. With Kris Kobach as the hypothetical nominee, the contest changes. He would hold only a slight 44-43% edge over Sen. Bollier, thus putting the seat in play during the general election.
Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi, who appeared to be state Sen. Barbara Bollier’s (D-Mission Hills) strongest Democratic primary opponent has dropped out of the race. She stated yesterday that she will not file as a candidate on the June 1st deadline. The move assuredly wraps up the nomination for Sen. Bollier, and she will await the Republican primary winner on August 4th.
Public Opinion Strategies released a new Kansas Republican primary survey for the Roger Marshall for Senate campaign (5/10-12; 600 KS likely Republican primary voters) that projects the western district Congressman has taken the lead over former Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach.
The ballot test shows Rep. Marshall leading Mr. Kobach and state Senate President Susan Wagle, 33-26-7%, with two minor candidates finishing even further behind in single digits. This is a significant change from their March poll that found Mr. Kobach holding a 34-28% advantage over Rep. Marshall. Polling suggests that the normally safe Kansas seat would be vulnerable to consensus Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier, a physician and Mission Hills state Senator, if Mr. Kobach were to win the GOP nomination.
Confirming Democratic political spin that their nominee has a shot to win the open Kansas Senate race if former Secretary of State and defeated 2019 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach wins the 2020 Republican nomination, a just released Public Policy Polling survey (4/13-14; 1,271 KS registered voters via automated response device) finds state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills) taking a small two point lead over Mr. Kobach, 44-42%. PPP, however, did not test either of the other Senate GOP candidates against Ms. Bollier, US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) or state Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita).
The economic conservative organization Club for Growth has reportedly reserved $2.1 million in media time for the Kansas Senate race though they have yet to endorse a candidate. They are, however, opposing one. The Club will run an electronic messaging operation against Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) who is running for the open Senate seat from which veteran incumbent Pat Roberts (R) is retiring. The group will attack Rep. Marshall over his spending and certain tax votes, which they say will enlarge the federal deficit even beyond its current status.
The Kansas primary is scheduled for August 4th. Rep. Marshall’s principal GOP opponents are former Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach and state Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita). Kansas City businessman Bob Hamilton, who has advertised on local television for decades, also may join the race. Democrats have coalesced around party-switching state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills).
Two general election polls were recently released into the public domain and they reveal distinct general election conclusions. DFM Research for the SMART Transportation union (1/30-2/6 with no calling on Super Bowl Sunday, 2/2; 600 KS residents) found former Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach (R) and state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills) tied with 43% apiece.
The Kobach campaign then responded with their own McLaughlin & Associates survey (2/12-13; 300 KS likely general election voters), which posted their candidate to a 47-38% advantage over Sen. Bollier, who appears to be a consensus Democratic candidate.
Both polls have methodology issues. The DFM poll queries “residents” as opposed to registered voters, while the McLaughlin poll sites only 300 likely general election voters, which is a small sample. Additionally, neither the DFM nor McLaughlin poll reported a ballot test featuring Sen. Bollier and US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend), which may have produced a distinctly different result.
The Keep Kansas Great PAC released the results of a co/Efficient polling company survey (1/19-20; 1,246 KS likely Republican primary voters; interactive voice response) that finds west Kansas US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) moving slightly ahead of former Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach (R) in the 2020 open Senate Republican primary.
The co/Efficient data finds Rep. Marshall only clinging to a 29-28% edge, but this is the first time that Mr. Kobach has trailed in a published Republican primary survey. Additionally, Mr. Marshall’s statewide name identification is far below that of Mr. Kobach’s who lost the Governor’s race in 2018 to Democratic candidate Laura Kelly, suggesting the Congressman has much more room to grow.
Democrats believe they can win the open Senate seat if Kobach becomes the GOP nominee. Public general election polling has so far supported the Democrats’ optimism. Reports surfaced over the weekend that President Trump is asking Mr. Kobach not to become a candidate. The Kansas candidate filing deadline is June 1st for the August 4th primary, so much time remains before decisions must be made. Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is retiring.
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