You know what they say, as Ohio goes, so goes Kansas.
No, not really. But both states had similarly tight races for important offices and both initial winners were endorsed by President Trump.
Ohio’s was to keep control of the 12th District House seat that has been Republican for more than four decades. GOP candidate Troy Balderson claimed victory by less than a percentage point in the special election over Democrat Danny O’Connor, with only provisional and absentee ballots to be counted.
In the Kansas gubernatorial primary race, Secy. of State Kris Kobach leads Gov. Jeff Colyer by less than 200 votes, suggesting that a recount is likely.
Here’s the wrinkle there: As Secy. of State, Kris Kobach would oversee a recount of the voting that currently has Secy of State Kris Kobach as the victor. Some people see a potential for something like a conflict of interest.
Kobach, a blunt-speaking conservative, suggests that couldn’t possibly exist and remains adamant that he will not recuse himself. And Kansas law is good with that.
Kobach points out that Kansas recounts are bipartisan affairs and anyway done at the county level. The secretary just oversees it, the theory goes. The Kansas too-close-to-call problem stems from counting problems with new voting machines in suburban Kansas City.
To cover the costs of a recount, Colyer would be required to post bond in an amount set by — oh, look — the Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The recount would be time-consuming and cut into any GOP victor’s campaign time before Nov. 6.
The Democrat nominee is state legislator Laura Kelly, a Democrat who would normally have no hope of winning, and an independent businessman Greg Orman.
National GOP party leaders wanted President Trump, who won Kansas by 21 points in 2016, to stay out of that race or endorse Colyer, the longtime lieutenant governor who inherited the governor’s office in January when Sam Brownback became a Trump ambassador. GOP icon Bob Dole endorsed Colyer, who has a softer-spoken, less confrontational style than Kobach.
Trump being Trump, however, jumped in at the last-minute on Kobach’s side and on Wednesday was claiming credit for pushing Kobach and Balderson to wins, among other candidates.
Kansas’ entire congressional delegation is Republican and Democrats have not carried the state in 54 years. But their professed hopes for this election have been raised by the almost-even GOP split for the governor’s office.
Governors’ races (and state legislative contests) are particularly important this year because the winners will preside over redistricting coming out of the 2020 census.
Currently, the GOP controls 33 governor chairs and both legislative houses in 24 of those states while only Democrats are governor. This is largely the result of the 2010 midterms, two years into the Barack Obama presidency, when voters began slaughtering Democrats at the state and federal levels.
However, 36 states will elect governors this year, along with about 80 percent of state legislators. So, while Washington media’s attention is on Washington races, the more impactful decisions will come elsewhere.