Federal Magistrate Judge James O'Hara ordered Kris Kobach to hand over the documents when he met with President Donald Trump. Kobach filed a motion to stay the judge's order. This video includes images from the Associated Press. Neil Nakahodo and Bryan Lowry The Kansas City Star
Federal Magistrate Judge James O'Hara ordered Kris Kobach to hand over the documents when he met with President Donald Trump. Kobach filed a motion to stay the judge's order. This video includes images from the Associated Press. Neil Nakahodo and Bryan Lowry The Kansas City Star

Government & Politics

Kris Kobach says he plans to stay in Kansas, where he is weighing a run for governor

By Bryan Lowry

blowry@kcstar.com

and Jonathan Shorman

jshorman@wichitaeagle.com

April 25, 2017 10:02 AM

UPDATED April 25, 2017 03:23 PM

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach plans to stay in the Sunflower State for the time being, according to an interview Tuesday morning on Fox News.

Kobach advised President Donald Trump on immigration policy throughout the campaign and met with him multiple times after the election, fueling speculation that he could be tapped for a role in the administration. However, he appeared to close the door on those rumors Tuesday.

“I’ve decided the best thing for me to do right now is for me to stay in my home state of Kansas,” Kobach told Brian Kilmeade after the “Fox & Friends” host asked him why he hadn’t ended up with a job in the administration.

Kobach has been openly weighing a run for the Kansas governor’s office in 2018, and his answer Tuesday morning points in that direction.

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Two Republicans have already formed gubernatorial campaign committees: Wichita businessman Wink Hartman and former Roeland Park state Rep. Ed O’Malley.

Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer has also declared his candidacy on the Democratic side, but more candidates are expected to enter the race for both parties.

Kobach, who has helped craft laws to restrict immigration and mounted lawsuits against the Obama administration as an attorney, probably would appeal to the same faction of voters who backed Trump’s candidacy, which centered on combating illegal immigration.

Kobach, who repeatedly touted Trump’s plan to build a border wall in the interview, told Kilmeade that he would continue to advise Trump informally.

The Wall Street Journal reported in late January that the White House had pushed for Kobach to be named deputy secretary of the Department Homeland Security but faced resistance from department Secretary John Kelly.

Kobach brought a strategic plan for the agency to a November meeting with Trump. The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to obtain access to the documents as part of an ongoing voting rights lawsuit.

Kobach was the sole person to defend Trump’s staff selections during a five-person debate Monday in New York broadcast by Intelligence Squared, a nonprofit organization that produces a debate series.

The debate focused on Trump’s first 100 days in office, a milestone he will reach Saturday. The debaters were asked to take sides on the resolution “Trump has picked a terrific team,” along with other topics.

Kobach repeats Trump's unsupported voter fraud claims

In November 2016, the top election official in Kansas claimed that millions voted illegally in 2016, but can't point to hard evidence to support that.

Bryan Lowry The Kansas City Star

Kobach pointed to the 25 executive orders Trump has issued so far as evidence his team is getting things done.

Other panelists said the chaotic January rollout of Trump’s immigration executive order suggested incompetence by his team.

“The fact that the immediate unveiling of the travel ban plunged the administration into chaos, which took weeks to get out of and which likely energized the opposition even more, I think, is like on its face evidence that the team is not terrific,” said Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for the online magazine Slate.  

Kobach, who helped advise on the immigration order as a member of the transition team, said he “will bet whatever amount of money you want that when the appeals are done, the travel ban that is currently being litigated will be upheld in court. I guarantee it.”

The New York audience was not swayed by his argument. On the resolution “Trump has picked a terrific team,” 94 percent said no before the debate. After the debate, the percentage climbed to 96 percent.

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3