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Ex-GOP Kansas senator endorses Dem over Kobach

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Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.) is endorsing Democratic nominee Laura Kelly over Republican Kris Kobach in this November’s gubernatorial election. 

“I’m a Republican, but that doesn’t mean you walk lock step always with the party,” Kassebaum, who represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 1996, told The Kansas City Star on Tuesday. 

{mosads}Her show of support for Kelly, a Democratic state senator, comes less than two months before the general election between Kelly, Kobach and independent Greg Orman.

“It seems to me that Kobach has developed a record that shows a focus on ways and how to accomplish his end goals that I think are not the best for Kansas,” Kassebaum said to The Star.

She also added that she “felt [Kelly’s] experience, 18 years in the Kansas Legislature … has given her a real understanding of what it takes to work across the aisle.”

Kassebaum becomes the second former senior Republican official in the state to break with the party and issue support for a Democrat in the governor’s race. 

Earlier this month, ex-Republican Kansas Gov. Bill Graves appeared in an ad that featured him praising Kelly’s work on education, health care and infrastructure problems in the state.

“Laura Kelly is the only Democrat I have ever endorsed for public office, and the reason I’m doing that now is because I believe so much is at stake in the state of Kansas,” said Graves, who served as governor from 1995 to 2003.

Kobach has become a controversial figure for his hard-line views on immigration and his efforts to pass voter identification laws. 

He earned the support of President Trump just a day before the Republican primary for governor in August, a move that some said helped him beat the state’s sitting governor, Jeff Colyer, for the nomination.

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