Vocal President Trump backer and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced on July 8 that he is running to fill retiring Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) seat. The Republican Swamp Complex was prepared for the moment. It was ready to pounce, and it did.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is “delighted” at the news, globalist standard-bearer The Wall Street Journal warned with a disapproving frown in an editorial timed to run that same day. Kobach “didn’t raise enough money and his single-issue focus on immigration turned off swing voters,” the Journal dismissively observed of his 2018 failed campaign for governor.
Kick Him All Around
What the paper doesn’t mention in that sentence is that Kobach was locked in a tight race against Democrat opponent Laura Kelly, with polls showing a virtual tie two weeks before Election Day. Perhaps he would have fared better if Jayhawk State establishment Republican stalwarts such as former governor Bill Graves and longtime U.S. senator Nancy Kassebaum hadn’t very vocally endorsed Kelly, along with several other cohorts.
That’s a cute trick there. The GOP Establishment helped defeat Kobach and now laments his inability to win. Such chicanery two-plus years into Trump’s presidency clearly reveals that the Swamp elephants have not ceded control of the party’s inner workings to the new Trump agenda.
“I will be leading the charge in the Senate for President Trump,” Kobach vowed while officially launching his campaign. Not if RINO-controlled GOP organizations have a say in the matter. “Just last year Kris Kobach ran and lost to a Democrat. Now, he wants to do the same and simultaneously put President Trump’s presidency and Senate majority at risk,” Joanna Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, thundered in an immediate strike at Kobach’s candidacy.
Rodriguez’s deep anxiety for Trump and his policy pursuits becomes somewhat less plausible when you consider her background. The veteran Republican aide served as a former staffer to onetime Establishment Golden Boy Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for two years and then became Communications Director for ex-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) for another two and a half years before safely landing at the NRSC. When Democrats attacked Republicans on immigration reform in 2018, Rodriquez emphasized her boss’s frequent attempts to force Republican hands on the issue. “Anyone who says Carlos Curbelo hasn’t put everything he has into passing a permanent solution for Dreamers is clearly detached from reality,” Rodriguez said at the time. This is in fact true. Curbelo actually brought a Dreamer as his guest to Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address. When Curbelo, who was Republican co-chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus during his time in the House, lost his seat in 2018, Trump publicly mocked him for running away from his endorsement, mispronouncing his name as “Cue-bella” in the process.
Trump’s Primary Problem
The NRSC and the Republican super PAC the Senate Leadership Fund have long been waiting in the weeds for Kobach. A McClatchy news service article in May pointed out that the two organizations were ready to pour money into Kansas to defeat a Kobach bid for the party’s Senate nomination. “They’ll do some actual spending if it comes to that,” Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for The Cook Political Report, told McClatchy. “They’ll talk about electability, they’ll talk about some of his controversies. I don’t think they want a slash-and-burn effort, but their goal will be to disqualify without at this point getting behind a candidate.”
Unsurprisingly, the same NRSC that finds Kobach so unacceptable is all-in on the re-election campaign of Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who has long championed immigration reform that would allow millions of illegal aliens to stay in the country. Under the guise of “needing to keep the Senate,” Trump has endorsed staunch U.S. Chamber of Commerce chum Tillis. An exceedingly vulnerable incumbent due to his globalist standing, the senator is now scurrying to cozy up to the president he has so often criticized. What must be vexing to MAGA devotees is that Trump agrees to back establishment Republicans who have strongly opposed him in the past while this same RINO coalition overtly works to torpedo the budding campaigns of Republicans unabashedly allied to the president’s policy goals.
If Trump truly wants to leave a legacy that lasts beyond his time in the Oval Office, it is paramount that he cultivate a crop of younger Republican elected officials keen on helping him to re-make the party in his image. With the notable exception of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), this has not happened as yet. The GOP establishment’s plan has never been very subtle. It is to outlast Trump, to run out the clock while implementing as little of his agenda as possible without inciting a revolution from the massive pro-Trump Republican grassroots voting base. Keeping its people in elected office while snuffing out the hopes of burgeoning Trump advocates is a crucial part of this process. If Trump doesn’t want to see his change presidency dismantled the moment he vacates 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he needs to become a much more influential force in Republican primary campaigns across the country.