2016 Kansas Caucus Results: Ted Cruz Takes Kansas
Updated, 5:15 p.m. Saturday: Ted Cruz is projected to win the Kansas Republican primary.
With two-third of precincts reporting, Cruz had captured 51 percent of the vote, though Johnson County results are not in yet.
The next closest candidate, Donald Trump, had 24 percent of the vote. Rubio trailed with 14 percent, despite having the endorsement of the 2012 Kansas caucus winner, Rick Santorum.
Brenda LaMar was one of thousands of Johnson County residents who waited in long lines to caucus. She said she voted for Ted Cruz.
“He’s conservative, he believes in law in order,” LaMar said. “We have gotten way out of hand with following the law.”
Congressman Kevin Yoder didn’t endorse any candidate Saturday.
“Ultimately, we’ll pick a nominee, and this party will unify,” he said.
Theresa Seagraves, chairman of the Johnson County Republican Party, said it would likely be late evening before all of the ballots were tabulated.
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The line to participate in the Kansas Republican Presidential Caucus stretched out the doors of Olathe South High School Saturday morning, but it didn’t deter Brenda LaMar.
“I always vote. I’m a good citizen. I think it’s a responsibility,” the Johnson County resident said after casting her vote for Ted Cruz. “I’d like a better America for my children, and he’s the guy to save the country.”
LaMar said she believes Johnson County has become a “sanctuary county” for people who are in the country illegally and Cruz’s policies are the most likely to restore law and order.
She’s frustrated so much of the conversation has been about Donald Trump.
“He has done a lot of mudslinging, and when it comes back at him, he’s kind of a crybaby,” LaMar said. “The other candidates are really having trouble getting media attention.”
Congressman Kevin Yoder, who spoke Saturday before the caucus started but did not endorse a candidate, said he thought establishment Republicans’ efforts to discredit Trump would backfire.
“As the folks in Washington, D.C., wail and scream about this, I think it encourages people to say, ‘Hey, maybe that’s exactly what we need to do is to send somewhere there to shake it up,’” Yoder said.
Though Yoder didn’t stump for any particular candidate, Rick Santorum pledged to back Marco Rubio. Santorum, who won Kansas in 2012, reminded voters in attendance he was recently at the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“This race has now taken on a whole new character in my opinion because it’s not just about who the next president will be," Santorum said. “This is what the Supreme Court’s going to look like for the next 25 years.”
Santorum said pro-life Kansans should back Rubio because he is anti-abortion.
Trump, widely considered to be the frontrunner in the race, has picked up one key endorsement in Kansas: Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Describing Kobach as the Kansas politician he trusts most, Derek Clopton told his fellow Johnson County Republicans they too should support Trump.
“I’m stumping for Trump because I’m tired of being taken advantage of. I’m tired of promises about putting a stop to illegal immigration that are never made good on.”
The Republican caucus is scheduled to run until 2 p.m., but party officials said they wouldn't turn away anyone in line. It could be late tonight before they declare a winner because they were anticipating record turnout.
Kansas Democrats will hold their caucuses Saturday afternoon.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.