President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed Kansas gubernatorial primary candidate Kris Kobach, throwing his support behind the controversial anti-illegal immigration hardliner who previously served as the vice chair of Trump’s now-disbanded voting integrity commission.
In a morning tweet from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump praised Kobach, who is Kansas’s secretary of state, as “a strong and early supporter of mine.”
“He is a fantastic guy who loves his State and our Country – he will be a GREAT Governor and has my full & total Endorsement!” Trump said. “Strong on Crime, Border & Military. VOTE TUESDAY!”
Kobach faces six other Republicans in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary. Polling shows the race as competitive, with Kobach and incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer as the front-runners.
With his frequent pledges to “Make Kansas Great Again,” Kobach has embraced both Trump’s policies and his style. The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has also visited Kansas twice to campaign for Kobach.
Kobach has risen to national prominence due to his efforts to combat what he alleges is widespread voter fraud and illegal immigration. Yet his efforts, which align with several of Trump’s own policy objectives, have recently hit some speed bumps.
Last month, a judge struck down a strict new law sponsored by Kobach that had required Kansans to provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The judge also ordered Kobach to attend six hours of continuing legal education classes for “repeated and flagrant violations of discovery and disclosure rules.”
A recent report by ProPublica and the Kansas City Star detailed Kobach’s work over the years to craft anti-immigration ordinances for towns across the country — an effort that has resulted in hefty legal bills for the municipalities while Kobach himself profited handsomely.
And last week, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the members of the voter fraud commission, accused Kobach and the White House of making false statements on the issue and said it appeared the panel had been established not to investigate claims of fraudulent behavior but, rather, to validate them.
Washington Post writer Amy B. Wang contributed to this report.
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