Just because you’re a Republican, doesn’t mean you’re a conservative, said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, bringing his gubernatorial campaign to Hutchinson Thursday morning.
Kobach is critical of the “status quo” in Topeka, where all statewide offices have been held by Republicans for nearly eight years and both chambers of the Legislature have Republican majorities.
The campaign bus that one-time gubernatorial candidate Wink Hartman used to spread his “Fed Up!” theme has been rewrapped for the Kobach-Hartman ticket.
“That’s the conservative way to do it,” Hartman said of the repurposed bus. The message displayed on the bus is that voters need to send conservatives to “fix” Topeka.
“End Topeka’s culture of corruption,” “Stop sanctuary cities,” “Cut taxes & wasteful spending” and “Pro-life, pro-gun, pro-ag” are other slogans emblazoned on the bus.
A federal district court trial over whether Kobach violated voters’ rights recently wrapped up and Kobach hit the campaign trail. He is traveling with his wife, Heather Kobach, their five daughters, and one dog. Kobach's lieutenant governor running mate Hartman and their campaign staff rounded out the contingent that stopped for about a half-hour in Carey Park before heading on to Great Bend and then southwest Kansas.
“We’ve got a mess in Topeka,” Kobach said.
He wants to roll back the $1.2-billion income tax increase passed in 2017 and shrink government employee rolls. He said he was the only Republican running for governor who called for a rollback of the 2017 tax hike in a February debate in Wichita.
Kansas has the third-highest number of state and local government employees per state capita. “There’s a lot of fat,” he said, that the state can shed through attrition. The retirement of baby boomers gives the state “an opportunity of a generation” to shrink employee rolls through attrition, pointing out that his office has 19 percent fewer employees now than when he came into office nearly eight years ago.
Kobach also raised the issue of illegal immigration and said Kansas is "arguably" the sanctuary state of the Midwest.
A voter who wants the status quo shouldn’t vote for him. “I will be shaking things up way too much,” he said.
Hartman said the $1.2-billion tax hike was “unconscionable, but it happened.” The multimillionaire grandfather with investments in banking, oil and gas, restaurants and entertainment, said he wasn’t running to build a political resume or to climb the political ladder.
About 20 people, including campaign staff and media, were at the Carey Park event, including Hutchinson resident Vicki Jackson.
“He’s standing for what I believe. I believe he’s a man of integrity,” Jackson said, explaining why she supports Kobach.
Kobach appeared unworried by the pending case in federal court. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson is considering whether voters’ rights were violated because the voter registration applicants didn’t show proof of citizenship and whether Kobach should be held in contempt of court.
Kobach said the voter registration issue ultimatley will end up in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court’s ruling would not be issued until after the fall election.