Politics & Policy

The Real Republican Deal

Will "Landslide Kobach" pull it off?

In case you think your vote doesn’t count, consider Kansas’s 3rd congressional district.

After Tuesday’s Republican primary, first-time candidate Kris Kobach won 38,124 votes to 38,037 for 2002 GOP nominee, Adam Taff. (State Rep. Patricia Lightner captured the remaining 9,944 votes, or 11.54 percent of the total.) “Landslide Kobach” currently leads by just 87 votes or 44.28 percent to Taff’s 44.18 percent.

The 38-year-old University of Missouri, Kansas City professor of legislation and Constitutional law hopes his microscopic lead will stick. Some 3,700 provisional ballots–cast, for instance, by seemingly legitimate people whose current addresses differ from those in precinct records–will be counted by Monday. Conservatives and libertarians should cross their fingers for Kobach.

I have known Kris Kobach since I was a Georgetown University junior, and he was a Harvard-bound high-school senior. We both earned scholarships from the Washington Crossing Foundation, a Bristol, Pennsylvania nonprofit that provides financial assistance to incoming college students planning careers in public affairs. I met Kris at a 1984 gathering of old and new scholarship winners.

Kobach was then and remains a terribly bright, engaging, and personable patriot. The former White House fellow and Oxford graduate has written clear-headed, hard-hitting opinion pieces for the New York Post on terrorism and immigration, among other topics. He also took a leave from his teaching duties between September 2001 and July 2003 to serve as counsel to John Ashcroft.

“In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks,” Kobach says, “Attorney General Ashcroft asked me to find new ways to keep terrorists out of the United States. Our borders are our most important line of defense in protecting the U.S. against another terrorist attack. Our enemy’s platoons in the war against terrorism do not wear uniforms of camouflage green.”

Kobach secured the pre-primary endorsements of U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Alab.), as well as U.S. Representatives Thomas Tancredo (R., Col.), Lamar Smith (R., Tex.), and John Hostettler (R., Ind.).

“I have worked closely with Kris Kobach in drafting bills for proposal in the U.S. Senate,” Sessions said. “In every instance, his legal expertise and energy have been impressive. He would make a fine member of Congress.”

Rep. Smith added: “I have worked with Kris Kobach to secure our borders against terrorism, and I have seen what he has achieved for the Bush administration and for America. He will be able to make a major contribution in Congress from the day that he is sworn in.”

“Kris Kobach is a free market conservative with courage, conviction, and unbendable principles,” says Club for Growth president (and NRO writer) Steve Moore. “That will make him quite unique in the United States House of Representatives.” Club for Growth’s PAC has donated the legal maximum to Kobach’s campaign.

So far, Kobach has benefited from a specific act of loyalty by his supporters. On July 24, he and the Taff campaign both planned literature drops, Kobach recalls. “That morning, it started to rain,” he says. “Taff cancelled his lit drop at 9:00 A.M. We went ahead with ours. We had 100 volunteers in the rain, each handing out about 500 pieces of literature. So, we blanketed the district with about 50,000 handouts.” It’s entirely possible that Team Kobach’s rain-soaked resilience pushed them over the top last Tuesday.

If those provisional ballots cooperate, Kobach will maintain his first-past-the-post edge and secure the GOP congressional nomination. If so, he will have beaten the more moderate Adam Taff who, for example, praises President Bush’s disastrous Medicare prescription-drug entitlement. Kobach correctly describes it as an LBJ-style boondoggle.

The GOP nominee will face incumbent Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore. He outspent Taff two-to-one in 2002, but only scored 50 percent of the vote. In 2000, G.W. Bush beat Albert Gore 53 percent to 42 in this constituency. According to the Republican National Congressional Committee, “the Third District represents one of the most promising Republican pick-up opportunities of the cycle.”

If Kobach can hold on to his wafer-thin margin, then show Moore that there’s no place like home, free-marketeers can expect to see someone hardcore, whip smart, young, handsome, and tough on Capitol Hill. Should he be sworn in next January, Kris Kobach will be among the few, the proud in Congress: A Republican who behaves like a Republican.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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