But Kobach is confronting President Donald Trump and is consulting with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on an immigration plan that the White House is developing. And no one knows how Trump will fit into the GOP primaries and whether Senate Republican leaders will be able to convince him to support a candidate they claim has a better chance of winning in November.
In late January, Kobach left the White House and met with Kushner – and also had a private meeting with Trump and an elderly White House helper where they discussed the Senate race. The president was “encouraging” at the January 27 meeting, according to a Kobach spokesman, although the Kansas conservative did not ask for approval.
“The Senate candidate who will do the best is likely to be the one who can best articulate Trump’s position and is most associated with Trump in his positions,” an immigration brigand and election crusader told CNN Kobach. “And the person who best fits that account would be me.”
Indiana Senator Todd Young, president of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told CNN that GOP voters in Kansas are looking for someone who “fits the state well” and “can actually win a general election.”
Asked if he thinks Kobach could have a general election, Young said: “All I have to answer is the recent history: the government race, which has lost.”
Officials from the GOP Senate meet the Kansas businessman
Privately, the National Republican Senatorial Committee recently met Bob Hamilton, a 12-year-old father who owns a hydraulic company in Overland Park, Kansas, according to several sources with knowledge of the session. A source familiar with Hamilton’s thought has said he is seriously considering whether to race.
“Bob Hamilton is what people are buying right now – an outsider conservative businessman,” the source said, adding that a decision could be made well before the June submission deadline for the August primaries.
However, there is concern that Hamilton’s entry into the race will only increase Kobach’s chances, especially in a crowded field which also includes representative Roger Marshall, who was first elected in 2016 after defeating a deputy in charge, Tim Huelskamp, one of the favorites of the Tea Party that had aroused the anger of business and agricultural groups. Some of those wounds from that fight are still raw, GOP sources said. And at least one conservative group, the Club for Growth, is promising to lose a lot of money in an attempt to stop Marshall.
Marshall, an obstetrician-gynecologist, represents the solidly Republican district, centered on the farm, from which former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole, Senator Jerry Moran and retired Senator Pat Roberts built the basis of their power.
Kobach rejects the idea that his Senate run would be a repeat of the 2018 governor’s race, noting that while Democrats have long been competitive for state races, they haven’t won a Senate race since 1932. He says that while Kelly attacked him on funding for public schools, for example, the streak will be different during this presidential election cycle.
Marshall Field claims that the most candidates are only for Kobach’s benefit, as Senate President Susan Wagle and former Kansas City chief player and businessman Dave Lindstrom also run in the party primaries.
“This is his only path to victory – this is getting more and more crowded,” said Brent Robertson, Marshall’s chief strategist, referring to Kobach. “If Roger Marshall gets one on one, it’s an absolute toast.”
Last year, Marshall’s campaign kept $ 1.9 million at hand, the largest number of candidates in the race. But Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former Republican Democrat nominee, raised $ 1.1 million in the final three months of 2019, crushing competition in that financial quarter. Kobach had less than $ 200,000 available at the end of 2019.
Democratic Senate leaders are closely involved in the race. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer pointed to a poll showing Kobach in sight on a private teleconference with donors on Friday, noting that he may be the candidate, according to an informed source on the call.
Trump pulled in both directions
But Trump could have the maximum say in pushing a candidate over the finish line – and what he decides to do remains the ultimate wildcard. Ever since Pompeo’s decision became clear, Trump has been back and forth to support the race to the Kansas Senate, but at this stage he doesn’t seem to be close to making one, people familiar with his thought said.
Trump is closely monitoring polls in the state and has heard from more people that Kobach could threaten republican control of the seat. Some of his advisers gently pushed him to support Marshall. But he has indicated that he is not yet ready to decide.
However, Republican candidates are presenting their cases to him. Trump met Marshall a couple of weeks before meeting Kobach on January 13, but spoke to Kobach that day, sources said. Trump actually tried to call Kobach from the oval office when he was meeting with Marshall, but the call went to the answering machine and they connected later. Both meetings also included members of Trump’s political team.
In addition to propagating most of the money, Marshall camp also boasts its strong support for Trump. In response to Kobach’s claim to be more closely related to the president, Councilor Marshall Robertson replied, “Facts are more important than talking,” arguing that Marshall votes with Trump almost 100% of the time.
Democrats hope to exploit the GOP fighting in 2020, strengthening their success two years ago.
Democrats won races across the state in 2018, an accusation not only of Kobach but also of Trump and the legacy of former Republican governor Sam Brownback, whose unprecedented tax cuts led to a budget deficit of value hundreds of millions of dollars. Democrats didn’t just change the governor’s residence, they also broke the state’s entirely republican congressional delegation, taking one of the four Kansas House seats and moving to another conservative district.
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Democrats “absolutely” can win in Kansas this year. When asked about Kobach’s prospects as a GOP candidate, he said, “There are big differences” between the conservative candidate and Bollier.
“And so I think it will be for the purposes of the people in Kansas, they will vote for the individual who listens to them and supports the matters that matter to them,” he told CNN.