Far-Right Kris Kobach Aims for Political Comeback, Announces Run for AG in Kansas

Kris Kobach, then the Kansas secretary of state, speaks at an event during his 2018 campaign for governor. (Image from Kansas City Star video)

At a press conference in Wichita Thursday, far-right anti-immigration hardliner Kris Kobach announced his campaign for attorney general of Kansas. 

Kobach rose to political prominence as the Kansas secretary of state, ​a position​ in which he gained notoriety for pushing ​restrictive immigration policies and voting policies under the guise of ​preventing “voter fraud.” 

A Trump administration favorite in the ​2020 Republican primary ​for ​U.S. Senate, Kobach nonetheless lost the nomination contest. Still, all was not lost for Kobach; his Senate run had excited white nationalists, who saw him as a champion of extreme anti-immigration policies. “Having someone like him as a senator, that would be extremely powerful,” co-host of the racist podcast “Fash the Nation” James Allsup said in January of that year. 

Kobach also lost a 2018 bid for governor to Democrat Laura Kelly in the deep red state, despite earning himself a Trump endorsement. In spite of such high-profile losses, Kobach is running for public office yet again, aiming for a political comeback.

And his hardline views on immigration appear to remain center stage. “If the Biden administration tries to relocate illegal aliens to Kansas in violation of the standards of federal law, they’ll have to get through me first,” Kobach said at the event announcing his candidacy. In a April 21 ​op-ed​ at the hard-right Breitbart​ website, Kobach took issue with the Biden administration’s decision to stop using the term “illegal alien” in favor of “undocumented migrant.” To Kobach, such humanizing language was​ “Owellian​.”​ 

“What the Biden administration is doing is mind-numbing​,​” Kobach opined. ​”Indeed, it’s Orwellian. They have also evidently decided that ‘rioters’ are to be called ‘peaceful protesters.’  What’s next?”

Kobach has a long history of espousing extreme anti-immigrant views and played a key role in drafting Arizona’s notorious SB-1070 law, which​,​ as Vice News reported, “allowed police officers to pull over undocumented immigrants—or anyone ​of whom they had a ‘reasonable suspicion’ of being undocumented—to check if they had their papers, and detain​,​ or even deport​, them if they didn’t.” Prior to becoming Kansas secretary of state, Kobach joined ​the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a legal affiliate of FAIR, the anti-immigration group designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A leader in the effort to restrict voting rights under the guise of eliminating voter fraud, Kobach is known to fearmonger about the possibility of undocumented immigrants illegally swaying elections. In 2017, Kobach was named vice chair of Trump’s disgraced “Commission on Election Integrity,” which folded in 2018 after it found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. 

​From 2013 to 2017, Kobach hosted a weekly radio program in Kansas City, where he trafficked ​conspiracy theories about President Obama and immigrants, suggesting that it was possible that a Hispanic majority in the U.S. could conduct an “ethnic cleansing​.” And in an apparent attempt to stoke white fear of Black people, Kobach declared on-air that it would not be a “huge jump” to predict that the Obama administration could call an end to the prosecutions of African Americans for any crime. 

In announcing his run, Kobach also promised to defend state laws restricting women from getting abortions, ​as well as the Second Amendment​ and law enforcement​ officers, which he claimed were facing attacks from the left that had reached a “fever pitch.”

The Associated Press reported that Kobach appointed Laura Tawater as campaign treasurer late Wednesday night. The western GOP Kansas activist has been criticized for attending the so-called Stop the Steal rally held prior to the Capitol insurrection. Though Tawater told the AP she did not go to the Capitol, she took to Facebook the following day and said that she would miss “so many freedom-loving Patriots.”