Following Kris Kobach’s loss in his gubernatorial bid, Hunter Woodall and Bryan Lowry of the Kansas City Star published a deep dive behind the scenes of his failed campaign. Kobach has long been an anti-immigrant extremist and an ardent supporter of Donald Trump; his campaign this year followed the GOP divide-and-distract strategy that led dozens of candidates across the nation to ruin. But in addition to all this, Kobach’s campaign seemed to be plagued by mismanagement and hubris. After talking with more than a dozen Republican strategists and officials. here are some of the highlights Woodall and Lowry found:
- Kobach was completely unwilling to listen to advice, put energy into fundraising, or set up a “get out the vote” operation. Instead, he seemed to assume that his regular presence on cable TV, dominance in headlines, and support from Trump would win him the election.
- Two weeks before election day, members of Kobach’s senior staff did a walk-through of the governor’s office in seeming preparation for Kobach winning.
- After he lost, Kobach somehow didn’t blame himself for losing a race for governor in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 2 to 1.
- “It was the most dysfunctional thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said a long-time Kansas GOP operative.
- “Kris didn’t deserve to win. He does things his own way, check logic and reason at the door. I think it’s probably for the best that he didn’t win,” said a Republican official.
- “One person told me he seemed more interested in talking to the media than in doing what it took to win a Governor’s election,” said Clay Barker, the state Republican Party’s former executive director
The incompetent picture of Kobach’s campaign is no surprise for those who have watched him over the years. From his failures in court to a judge’s order that he take remedial law classes to all the anti-immigrant laws he wrote that were struck down to his disbanded voting commission, Kobach has a long record of bluster but not a lot of wins. As Mark Joseph Stern recently wrote at Slate: “Kobach has always been a loser. Now he is a loser out of a job.”