Colyer concedes following release of final JoCo vote tally, endorses Kobach as GOP nominee

Kris Kobach, who started his political career as a member of the Overland Park city council before going on to national notoriety, is the Republican nominee for governor following the concession of Jeff Colyer Tuesday.

Following the release of Johnson County’s final primary vote tally, which saw his deficit in the tight race grow by 24 votes, Jeff Colyer on Tuesday evening conceded the race to Kris Kobach and endorsed him for governor.

Attorney Keith Mark, who was representing the Kobach campaign, spoke with reporters after Johnson County released its official final vote tally, which extended Kobach’s statewide lead.

Colyer’s decision to concede the race surprised some given that he had retained legal counsel to represent his campaign as Kansas’s 105 county’s canvassed their votes and established the official final results.

From the Governor’s Office at the capitol on Tuesday, the Leawood plastic surgeon said he had determined the numbers simply weren’t there to justify requesting a recount.

“I’ve just had a conversation with the Secretary of State and congratulated him on his success and repeated my determination to keep this seat in Republican hands,” Colyer said. “This election may be the closest in America. But the numbers are not there. Kansas is too important. Tracey [Mann] and I will not challenge this in court, nor will we ask for a recount. Right here and now we endorse the winner Kris Kobach and Wink Hartman.”

With Sedgwick County’s provisional ballots already added to the statewide tally when the canvass board met at the Johnson County Election Office at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Kobach’s lead over Colyer had grown to 320 votes.

That meant Colyer needed to see a sizable margin of the more than 1,450 provisional ballots to be added to Johnson County’s results break his way. But when Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker announced the final numbers after the provisional ballots had been counted, Kobach saw 325 votes added to his total and Colyer saw 301 votes added to his.

With Johnson County’s provisional votes added to the statewide tally, Kobach’s lead had grown to 344 votes. That’s a margin of .13 percent among the 256,720 votes cast for the two candidates in GOP primary.

In the end, Colyer carried his home county with 31,142 votes to Kobach’s 26,706. But Kobach’s advantages in western parts of the state were enough to overcome Colyer’s performance in the metro.

Following Colyer’s concession, Kobach thanked Colyer and called him a “worthy opponent.”

The gubernatorial field is now set with Kobach, Democratic nominee Laura Kelly, and independent Greg Orman.

Kelly wasted little time calling Kobach’s record into question, issuing a statement shortly after Colyer conceded saying Kobach had a “unique brand of hyper-partisanship and self-promotion.”

“Kansans have made it very clear, they want to slam the door on the failed Brownback experiment that Kris Kobach represents. They want strong schools, good jobs, balanced budgets without new taxes, and a growing economy,” Kelly said. “These are the priorities that I will bring back to the governor’s office.”