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Kansas Governor Colyer concedes GOP primary to Secretary of State Kobach

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WICHITA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded Tuesday evening in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary, saying he would endorse Secretary of State Kris Kobach a week after their neck-and-neck finish threatened to send the race to a recount.

Colyer accepted defeat after a review of some provisional ballots from most Kansas counties failed to find enough votes for him to overcome a deficit of 110 votes at the time of poll closing in the Aug. 7 primary, out of more than 311,000 votes initially counted.

Kobach will face Democrat Laura Kelly, and is likely to face independent candidate Greg Orman, in the November general election in the decidedly conservative state.

The disputed race was intense and prompted a lengthy county-by-county review of provisional ballots. The aftermath of the primary included both candidates challenging each other’s legal interpretations, sending observers to monitor the vote count and raising the specter of lawsuits.

It included a fight over how to count unaffiliated voters who were simply given a provisional ballot by poll workers without first having them fill out a party-affiliation statement. Colyer’s campaign had representatives in all 105 counties when provisional ballots are reviewed.

Image:
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach votes on Aug. 7th, 2018, at the Lecompton City Hall. Thad Allton / The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP

Colyer also questioned whether Kobach — as secretary of state the top election official in Kansas — was advising counties not to count some mail-in ballots, including those with missing or unreadable postmarks.

Kobach removed himself from election-related duties on Aug. 10 until the primary outcome was resolved, but Colyer argued that Kobach still had a conflict of interest because his top deputy took over Kobach’s responsibilities.


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