Second former GOP governor backs Dem over Kobach


Former Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden (R) on Thursday joined the ranks of Kansas Republican leaders endorsing Democrat Laura Kelly’s run for the state’s governorship over Republican Kris Kobach. 

Hayden is the third high-ranking GOP Kansas official to spurn Kobach in favor of Kelly, alongside former Gov. Bill Graves and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum

{mosads}”After eight years of crisis, we cannot elect someone who wants to repeat the disasters of the past,” Hayden said in a statement, according to The Kansas City Star. “Kris Kobach has promised to do just that — risking the future of our great state.”

All living former Republican governors have now endorsed Kelly, except Sam Brownback, the Star reported. Brownback did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Hayden served as governor from 1987 to 1991. 

“This is a critical year for the state of Kansas,” Hayden said. “No one can sit on the sidelines in this election.”

Kobach, the state’s secretary of state, is running against Kelly and independent Greg Orman in November’s election. 

Hayden said in a statement that he does not feel Orman could win the election.

“While he may have something to offer the state of Kansas, this is not the year,” Hayden said. “This year, we must come together to support Laura Kelly.”

“I’ve been a registered Republican for over 50 years,” he added. “I seldom vote for Democratic candidates, but in this race, I strongly support Laura Kelly.” 

Kelly’s campaign in September released an ad featuring Graves, who was governor from 1995 to 2003, as he praised her ability to work across party lines.

Kobach received a last-minute endorsement from President Trump before the primary election. 

Kobach served as vice chairman of the president’s election integrity commission, which failed to come up with evidence to back up Trump’s false claim that millions of voters had illegally cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. 

He has gained national attention for his hard-line stances on immigration and support for voter identification laws.

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

Nonpartisan election forecaster The Cook Political Report has rated the race for Kansas’s governor a “toss-up.” Polling on RealClearPolitics shows the gubernatorial race between Kelly and Kobach as neck-and-neck, though the most recent poll was conducted more than a month ago.

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