Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SOS 2010: Critical Yet Underrated Race in Kansas

Today, in a series of stops in Kansas, Kris Kobach announced he is running for Secretary of State, setting off a critical yet underrated battle for the state's top elections officer. Current Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh has held the position since 1994.

Kobach's entry, who previously was the Republican State Chairman and a candidate for Congress in 2004, is yet another example of why 2010 presents a huge opportunity for conservatives in Kansas. With Obama continuing to establish the fact he is a liberal and his popularity sinking according to a new Rasmussen poll, and with the Democrats having no heavy hitters on the ballot in Kansas, conservatives have an opportunity to claim Kansas back as a deep red state for the first time ever.

First of all, with Sam Brownback running for Governor, barring a collapse, Kansas will have its first conservative Republican Governor. With no Democrat yet emerged and with Brownback holding a 50 point lead over Ron Thornburgh, even liberals like Steve Rose, as we covered last month, appear ready to hand the governorship to Sam.

Second of all, whether Jerry Moran or Todd Tiahrt wins the primary for the U.S. Senate, both have conservative voting records. Tiahrt probably has the more established pedigree as a conservative, but in either case, we'd have a conservative U.S. Senator as the Democrats have yet to find a credible challenger who would have statewide appeal.

Both of these races will help out races "down the ballot". While no conservative has yet to emerge in the race for Attorney General, Kris Kobach's entry means that conservatives will have an experienced campaigner and household name who can likely bring in enough money to win the seat.

It's important too -- becuase liberals have made it their goal to capture as many Secretary of State positions as possible. Why? So they can control elections and stop any effort by those who want to stop voter fraud and ensure a fair election.

To these liberals, Kobach is everything they hate. He actually wants to prevent voter fraud, clean up the voter rolls, prevent illegal aliens from registering to vote, and actually have some degree of civics education in Kansas. With Brownback and Kobach, we would actually see a Voter ID Bill not only pass in Kansas, but be signed. With Kobach, we would actually see a real effort at making sure our election process is honest and fair.

So who else is running?

Political no-name J.R. Claeys is running as a Republican. His website is here: http://www.jrclaeys.com/. On this site, he seems to be campaigning as a conservative, attending Tea Parties in both Johnson County and Salina. Basically, if one browses his website, his Twitter page, and other resources, Mr. Claeys is ringing the Republican bell.

Problem is, J.R. Claeys has a history of working in the Democratic party, something he doesn't tell you on his website. However, a little archive search on the web reveals that here, where he had posted his resume. Here is the excerpt:

April 1998 to November 1998 -- Kansas Democratic Party -- Topeka, Kansas
Field Coordinator
Developed and implemented plan to increase voter turnout
Coordinated Riley and Geary County Democratic campaigns
Participated in National DNC training seminars

Interesting, huh? Now, perhaps Mr. Claeys has had a conversion. 11 years is certainly a long time, but going from National DNC training seminars (!!!) to Tax Day Tea Parties is about as big of a bridge one can cross politically. As such, it would be nice if somewhere on his website, which is packed to the hilt with other information about Mr. Claeys, this apparent conversion was mentioned.

Further research is hard to come by, as almost all of his $212,000 at the end of 2008 had come from himself. We won't know who else is supporting him through the pocketbook til the end of 2009 and perhaps not until deep into 2010.

As such, it will be interesting to see if the moderate Republican wing comes out in support of him through endorsements or the support of KTRM, as these people are not and never will be fans of Kobach (which in our eyes is a very good thing). One would think that if Claeys was indeed a conservative, he'd steer clear of these endorsements. The only thing we have to go on now is that he won a blog straw poll of a bunch of Republican insiders, which means nothing as the type of Republican insiders who participate in blog polls tend to be dominated by those not of the conservative wing of the party.

Mr. Claeys is a mystery and will remain so. As of right now, his website, while nicely designed, seems to scream "political animal" with all it's social networking links and professional imaging. This may not be completely fair, but "political consultant's creation" is the impression that is left with us.

The other potential candidate is Ron Thornburgh, who is trailing by 50 points in polling in the Governor's primary, and according to the Star's Prime Buzz this morning, has apparently decided to keep his options open for a fourth term as Secretary of State. Steve Rose in his column last month suggested that Thornburgh do exactly that. While in many ways this would be hilarious -- that a statewide official has so little name ID and record to run on that he doesn't run for anything else -- it would certainly make things interesting.

If Claeys is the conservative he is campaigning as, it would open things up for Thornburgh again with two conservatives in the race. Of course, perhaps Claeys gets out if Thornburgh gets back in -- though that doesn't seem to be the case based on Claeys recent tour of the state and web activity.

Our take is this:

While there are certainly some interesting political calculations to take note of, the only clear conservative choice is Kris Kobach. He has a track record of activity and credibility on the issues he's campaigning on, as well as within conservative circles.

Most importantly, voters know that with Kris Kobach, they will get someone committed to the very critical issues of stopping voter fraud, preventing illegal alients from registering, cleaning up the voter rolls, and actually doing something with the office, rather than sitting on his hands for 12 years like the current guy. We know he'll work on problems related to advance voting, and we know he has the legal experience to stand up to court challenges from the election-stealing left.

If you want real elections reform and not mere political imagery, vote Kris Kobach.