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How Kris Kobach’s Prairie Fire PAC Candidates Fared in Kansas Senate Races

Aaron Patrick Flanagan • Nov 08, 2012

Kris Kobach, GOP Major Player and Kansas Secretary of State

Over the past couple of years, Kansans have expressed increasingly stern and vocal objection to the “extracurricular  activities” of their Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Rightly so, as well, opposition to Kobach has focused heavily on the obscene amount of time that he spent outside of the state campaigning for Mitt Romney, drafting and defending anti-immigrant measures in state and federal courts, launching myriad other lawsuits backed by the anti-immigrant movement, speaking before far-Right organizations, answering national media inquiries about entertaining keeping President Obama off the ballot in Kansas, pushing the national and delusional voter fraud/Voter ID bill agenda, preventing 3rd parties from attaining official status in his state, and so on, and so on, and so on.

It was, perhaps, Kobach’s vocal role in setting the GOP Platform just before the RNC that most recently underscored the Secretary of State’s hard-line beliefs. As some will remember, Kobach was at the forefront of steering his party against Muslims and the in-vogue pantomime villain that is “creeping Sharia,” against the rights of all LGBT individuals, and against immigrants both authorized and unauthorized by convincing the convention to harden its platform stance on immigration laws.

In the wake of the presidential election, though, some pundits are crediting Romney repeatedly uttering the anti-immigrant credo of “self-deportation”-and the doctrine of attrition through enforcement-as one of the central components to his defeat. The etymology of the euphemistic slogan of nativist hate that is “self-deport,” of course, is fully traceable to Kobach and his cohorts at the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA.

Some Kansas sources are even wondering aloud, “Did Kobach Connection Cost Romney the Election?”

Indeed Kobach has earned his national reputation as a figurehead of nativism, but what has been less criticized by sources beyond Kansas has been his political activism, for lack of a better term. Make no mistake, the Harvard and Oxford graduate has set about the stern and constant work of modeling his state’s legislature in his own image. Proof of this resides in his hopeful musings in the Wall Street Journal:

“Ideally, Kansas can become a place where conservative ideas of government are tried and exported to other states.”

Insert comments about Kobach’s role in the GOP Platform convention here, as this is strange work for a man who holds an office that oversees elections and is therefore charged with displaying zero partisan tendencies.

Nevertheless some of Kobach’s most blatant acts of partisanship within his own home state came during its primary elections, which he, of course, oversaw. Through his own PAC, named Prairie Fire, Kobach took aim at particular primary races, and with others set out to help defeat and so replace moderate Republican Senate candidates with GOP hard-liners who mirror his own moral, social, and religious values.

Sources in Kansas seem to believe that, at least for the following couple of years, Kobach and Governor Sam Brownback’s efforts to morph Kansas into a laboratory for far-Right policy measures seems to have worked; however, of the 12 candidates Kobach supported via Prairie Fire, nearly half failed to triumph.

Below are the candidates Kobach backed financially, all of whom were running for State Senate seats, how much he invested in them, and how they fared in their respective races:

  • Greg Smith ($500) – Winner
  • David Harvey ($1,000) – Lost Primary
  • Anthony Brown ($1,000) – Loser
  • Tom Arpke ($1,000) – Winner
  • Larry Powell ($1,000) – Winner (Uncontested)
  • Jeff Melcher ($1,000) – Winner
  • Jim Denning ($1,000) – Winner
  • Bob Reader ($1,000) – Loser
  • Joe Patton ($1,000) – Lost Primary
  • Michael O’Donnell ($500) – Winner
  • Gary Mason ($500) – Lost Primary
  • Mary Pilcher-Cook ($1,000) – Winner
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