Party bosses keeping a close eye on Kansas gubernatorial race as Election Day nears

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Secretary Kris Kobach (R-KS) has name recognition. State Sen. Laura Kelly (D-KS) led a fiery opposition to former Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS). Those two, along with Independent Greg Orman, are the front-runners fighting for the votes of Kansans in this year’s gubernatorial race. The organizations backing their campaigns are sprinting toward Election Day.

“We’re still confident Kris Kobach is going to win this race,” said Jon Thompson, communications director for the Republican Governors Association.

His group is closely watching the gubernatorial battle, particularly between Kelly and Kobach. Polls show the race is neck and neck, but Thompson says that is to be expected.

“It is going to be a tough year for Republicans. Democrats are fired up,” said Thompson.

But Thompson says Kobach’s focus on job numbers, the economy, and having close ties to President Donald Trump will help down the stretch. President Trump won Kansas in 2016 by more than 20-percent.

“In Kansas Donald Trump is still pretty popular. If you look at some other blue states maybe not so much, but Kansas is still a deeply red state,” said Thompson.

Thompson admits they have had to spend more money than expected in conservative states like Kansas, but says they are flush with cash. The Democrats are also emptying their wallets in these toss up races.

“Democrats are on offense in 26 of the 36 races that are up this cycle so it’s a huge opportunity for us to expand the map,” said Jared Leopold, communications director of the Democratic Governors Association.

Leopold says Kansas exhibits a Democratic candidate battling it out with an unappealing Republican. He says Kelly’s focus on education and her record of opposing the unpopular former Governor Brownback have her on track to turn Kansas blue.

“Do people want to move forward with the same Sam Brownback policies that Kris Kobach represents or do they want something different what Laura Kelly? And that’s a key choice,” said Leopold.

The midterm elections are on November 6. In addition to Kobach, Kelly and Orman, Libertarian Jeff Caldwell and Independent Rick Kloos are also on the ballot.