WASHINGTON – As the Kansas Senate primary barrel closes tensions between Senate Republicans and the White House over the possible appointment of Kris Kobach, who party officials fear would endanger the country and further deceive their Senate majority .
Senator Mitch McConnell is worried that Mr. Kobach, the controversial former secretary of state in Kansas who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race, could win the nomination on Tuesday primary just to lose the seat in November – and he is irritated that President Trump is not interfering in the race, according to numerous GOP officials.
Mr. McConnell and other Republican Senate leaders have urged the president to block Mr. McConnell. Kobach endorsing one of his opponents, Representative Roger Marshall. But Mr. Trump has so far refused to do so, and his aides said they had no plans to change course. Masking the disappointment of Republicans on Capitol Hill, White House aides have refused to tell Mr. Kobach, a longtime Mr. Trump’s booster, ban the use of president figures in his campaign materials.
With a number of Republicans in the Senate in the Senate who are on the ballot and growing out of their Democratic rivals, they have little margin for error as they seek to defend their 53-47 majority. And because of Mr. Trump’s widespread popularity and a health crisis that has devastated the economy, even a deeply conservative state like Kansas, which has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since the 1930s, is not a sure thing for Senate Republicans this year.
“We have eight months of data that say the majority is gone if Kris Kobach is the nominee,” said Josh Holmes, a senior lieutenant of Mr. McConnell. “It’s that simple.”
Mr. Trump’s dissatisfaction with entering the race illustrates his growing anxiety about his conservative base, the essence of which is the support of Mr. Trump. Kobach in Kansas. The president has recently sought to maintain his right-wing stance by taking a series of positions, particularly in races and protests, in order to strengthen Republican voters who have ousted him for his ineffective response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a related note, Mr. Trump, though drowning in general election polls, is proud of his winning-loss record in the Republican primary, where he has approved candidates, and he is flushed because he is seen to have reduced influence. within the GOP
Mr. Kobach has long been a driving force in Kansas politics, with strong views on immigration, voting rights and a host of other issues. He is particularly unpopular on the outskirts of Kansas City, home to traditionally moderate Republicans who have moved away from the party in the Trump era. Republicans in Kansas and Washington remain irritated that he seized the governor’s appointment two years ago, which they think cost them the country.
Senate Republicans have long been concerned about Mr. Kobach and for months they sought to run for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the former Kansas congressman. They have grown even more anxious in recent days, though, after reviewing the results of the Republican Senate poll: Polls showed Mr. Trump led only narrowly in the state and found that nearly 30 percent of Republican primary voters indicated they would support Democrat in the Senate race, state Senator Barbara Bollier, if Mr. Kobach would be the nominee, according to two Republicans familiar with the data.
Mr. Trump has expressed disappointment that he approved Mr.’s offer. Kobach for governor two years ago just to see him lose, and many congressional Republicans believed the president would try to stop Mr.’s candidacy. Kobach this year.
But party officials were very alarmed on Thursday after receiving word that the president was not inclined to support Mr. Marshall.
According to two people familiar with the conversation, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas used an Air Force One flight with the president Wednesday to remove Mr. Trump away from supporting Mr. Marshall. Mr. Cruz told Mr. Trump se z. Marshall had backed former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, now a vocal critic of Trump, in early 2016. Mr Cruz, who himself ran against Mr. Trump, has sought to remove some anti-creative candidates and his adviser political senior is working for another candidate in the race.
Representatives for Mr. Cruz declined to comment.
The push and pull between Mr. McConnell and Mr Cruz reflect the extent to which Mr Trump is increasingly being used by rival GOP factions, who acknowledge that he is a useful ally in intra-party fighting and that the way to appeal to him is to play to his insecurities.
Conformist Republicans, however, are particularly nervous about how the race is unfolding, and about Mr. Trump’s role in it.
“I do not understand it,” said Robert Blizzard, a Republican strategist and a poll for Mr. Marshall, when asked about Mr. Trump’s noise in the margins so far. “Given how narrow things seem about holding the majority, why wouldn’t we try to make sure we have a chance to win by holding this Kansas Senate seat. Concernings are certainly troubling.”
David Kensinger, a veteran Republican strategist of Kansas, noted that Mr. Trump’s approval of Mr. Kobach for 2018 was not forgotten.
“Kris Kobach’s career would have been more than two years ago, but for Trump’s approval – this is the chance for the president to decide well,” he said, still hoping for Marshall’s approval.
But when asked if he had seen any indication that Mr. Trump would do so, he replied, “I do not,” a view shared by another Republican strategist involved in the race.
Mr. Kobach and Mr. Marshall are boiling in a brutal, crowded race, which is defined by negative advertising and mailing. Of particular concern to Senate Republicans, an outside group that appears to be affiliated with the Democrats has also advertised heavily and attacked Mr. Marshall in an attempt to elevate. Mr. Kobach.
In a statement, Mr. Kobach said the records showed he would also be competing against Ms. Bollier.
“They know their alleged reason for supporting Marshall is false,” he said of what he called the Republican institution. “The real reason is that they want a man yes in the Senate – not a principled conservative.”
Of course, a nationwide race in Kansas remains a challenge for any Democrat, regardless of opponent, in a state where many religious voters prioritize issues like abortion and the courts, and some moderate voters are proof of the prospect of a Democrat-controlled Senate. , whatever their feelings for Mr. Trump, who is expected to win the state.
And there are many party leaders who hope that in the end, Mr. Marshall will prevail. The crowded, negative, Republican nature has made the race fluid and unpredictable, and Mr. Marshall has the backing of a stable of prominent groups, with a deep eye and influential figures, including former Senator Bob Dole. , The Chamber of Commerce and a host of other conservative organizations.
“Next week is a big week for Republicans to pass in the Senate,” said Scott W. Reed, a senior political strategist at the American Chamber of Commerce, pointing to the race in Kansas as well as one in Tennessee. “Naming a cold stone loser in Kansas will guarantee we will lose in the fall.”
The elementary winner is expected to face Ms. Bollier, a retired anesthesiologist who until recently was a Republican and did not have a significant primary battle of her own.
Kansas Republican Party leader Mike Kuckelman said he did not blame Mr. Trump for not intervening, but he said the president “certainly would have influenced the race if he had supported someone.”
“Maybe it would have made the race a little easier,” he said.