Overland Park Sen. Jim Denning urges Kobach to ‘step aside’ in U.S. Senate race

Former Secretary of State Kris Kobach addressing a meeting of the Northeast Johnson County Conservatives in 2015.

Former Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach — who got his start in politics as a member of the Overland Park city council – announced at an event in Leavenworth today that he is running for the U.S. Senate.

But given Kobach’s defeat by Democratic nominee Laura Kelly in the race for Kansas Governor, one local GOP leader is stepping out early to urge him to stay out of the Senate contest.

Jim Denning (left) at a candidate forum during the 2016 election cycle.

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park issued a statement ahead of the Kobach’s 1 p.m. announcement suggesting that Kobach’s U.S. Senate bid faced a number of obstacles out of the gate.

“[He] has to prove he is able to run a viable campaign,” read Denning’s statement. “His 2018 gubernatorial campaign can be described as disorganized and amateurish at best. The Kansas GOP needs someone who can support and energize our party. Kobach had his shot, fell short, and was handed defeat in the 2018 general election. Kris needs to step aside and support — not obstruct — the strengthening of the Republican Party.”

Prior to Kobach’s announcement, two well-known Republicans had announced their candidacies for the seat occupied by Sen. Pat Roberts, who will retire at the end of this term: Former Johnson County Commissioner and Kansas City Chiefs Player Dave Lindstrom; and current Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner.

In his statement, Denning said that, “If Kobach were to be the primary nominee, significant out of state money would pour into the hands of democrats [sic] to take advantage of his ineffective campaign strategies. We cannot afford to repeat his mistakes and hand another gift to the democrats [sic]. It is time for the Republican Party to come together, not drift further apart.”