Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded Tuesday evening in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary and endorsed Secretary of State Kris Kobach a week after the razor-thin margin in votes threatened to send the race to a recount.
Colyer accepted defeat after a review of some provisional ballots from most Kansas counties failed to find enough votes for him to overcome a deficit of 110 votes as Kobach’s lead grew to about 400 votes out of over 311,000 votes.
Kobach will face Democrat and Kansas State Sen. Laura Kelly as well as independent candidate Greg Orman in the November general election in the decidedly conservative state.
The disputed race was intense and drew a great deal of attention to the county-by-county review of provisional ballots. The aftermath of the primary included both candidates challenging each other’s legal interpretations, sending observers to monitor the vote count and raising the threat of lawsuits.
It included a fight over how to count unaffiliated voters who were given a provisional ballot by poll workers without first having them fill out a party-affiliation statement. Colyer’s campaign had representatives in all 105 counties when provisional ballots are reviewed.
Colyer also questioned whether Kobach was advising counties not to count some mail-in ballots, including those with missing or unreadable postmarks. Kobach, as secretary of state, is the top election official in Kansas.
After strongly refusing to recuse himself of his election duties on Wednesday last week, Kobach eventually succumbed to public and political pressure to remove himself from election-related duties, on Friday. Colyer argued that Kobach still had a conflict of interest because his top deputy took over his responsibilities.
Kobach rejected Colyer’s criticisms, calling it “unrestrained rhetoric” with the “potential to undermine the public’s confidence in the election process.”
Kobach has a national conservative following thanks to his strong stance against illegal immigration and his fervent defense of voter ID laws. He was vice chairman of the Trump administration’s short-lived election fraud commission.