Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who has pushed anti-immigration and voter suppression measures throughout the country, announced his campaign for governor today, according to the Kansas City Star.
Last month, President Trump picked Kobach to co-chair an “election integrity” commission with Vice President Mike Pence, a choice that made sense given that Kobach has defended Trump’s claim that he only lost the popular vote in last year’s election because of the “millions of people who voted illegally.”
Kobach, who served as an immigration adviser on Trump’s transition team, was also reportedly behind Trump’s campaign plan to pay for a wall on the Mexican border by seizing remittances from immigrants. As a member of the 2016 Republican platform committee, Kobach led the charge to get Trump’s wall included in the party platform.
While Kobach came up short after reportedly being considered for a high-ranking role at the Department of Homeland Security, the governorship of Kansas would give him a greater platform than ever before to implement his extremist policy proposals.
Before his election as secretary of state, Kobach was a key activist in the anti-immigrant movement. He authored Arizona’s notorious “show me your papers” law, part of which was struck down by the Supreme Court, and helped push similar anti-immigrant measures through in numerous states and municipalities. In the 2012 presidential campaign, Kobach was behind Mitt Romney’s promotion of “self-deportation” policies—policies based on the cruel premise that making life miserable for immigrants will force them to leave the country.
Kobach conducted much of his anti-immigration work through a job at the Immigration Reform Law Center, the legal arm of the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), where he still has a formal role.
Since his election as secretary of state, Kobach has gained a national profile by using Kansas as a guinea pig for disastrous voter suppression policies. A stringent voter-ID requirement that Kobach championed put the registrations of thousands of Kansas voters in limbo, though its implementation has been continually stymied by the courts. Kobach convinced the state legislature to allow him to prosecute voter fraud cases—an unusual role for a secretary of state to take on—but has only been able to dig up just one case of a noncitizen voting out of millions of ballots cast.
Kobach hosts a weekly radio program in Kansas City, where he has indulged in a number of race-related conspiracy theories. As we wrote in November:
Kobach, like Trump, has been known to be drawn to conspiracy theories, especially ones that bolster fears of the growing influence of racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. On his weekly radio show in 2014, Kobach entertained the question of a listener who wondered if a Hispanic majority in the U.S. would start conducting “ethnic cleansing,” saying that while he thought it was unlikely, “things are strange and they are happening” under President Obama. On another occasion, he told a caller it would not be a “huge jump” to think that the president might ban all criminal prosecutions of African Americans. Just this year, Kobach told a caller to his show that Obama might well oppose Kobach’s disastrous proof-of-citizenship voting restriction in Kansas because he’s not a citizen himself.