Kris Kobach | KCUR

Kris Kobach

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — A Democrat hasn’t won a U.S. Senate race in Kansas since the early days of the Great Depression.

It took that economic crisis to propel George McGill, riding on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coattails, to a win. And he served but a single term.

This year, the country finds itself on the cusp of another economic calamity. The COVID-19 epidemic sent the stock market into convulsions, forced all range of business and campaigning into hibernation and put life in limbo.

Erica Hunzinger / Kansas News Service

OLATHE, Kansas — Candidates determined to keep Kansas’ U.S. Senate seats in Republican hands quarreled Saturday over immigration, health care and federal spending, but no topic was more debated than who is the most friendly and in step with President Donald Trump.

In front of a standing-room only crowd at the 2020 Kansas Republican Party convention, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, former Secretary of State Kris Kobach and state Senate President Susan Wagle argued over which of them was the most conservative and would be Trump’s most loyal foot soldier in the U.S. Senate.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

The Interstate Crosscheck system, a controversial voter registration tracking program championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was labeled effectively “dead” after a legal agreement was announced Tuesday.  

As part of the settlement in a lawsuit brought last year by the ACLU of Kansas, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab agreed to complete a series of information safeguards and issue an “acknowledgement of error.”

Kansas Public Radio

One of the hallmarks of Kris Kobach's time as Kansas Secretary of State was his power to investigate and prosecute voter fraud. Kobach, who is now running for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate, was the only secretary of state in America with such power.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach agreed to legal sanctions to resolve a disciplinary complaint about his conduct in a voting rights case he lost last year.

As part of the resulting diversion agreement made public Monday, Kobach admitted that he did not properly supervise lawyers and others on his staff while contesting a lawsuit that challenged how he carried out a new voter ID law.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas The road to democracy is paved in donuts.

At least that’s the case if you dropped by Washburn University’s Memorial Union for lunch on a recent afternoon, followed the “free donuts” sign and blaring rock music down to the lower level, where there were not just boxes of glazed temptation, but smiling faces holding out electronic tablets.

Segment 1: Kris Kobach announces his senate campaign for the 2020 election

Pat Roberts is retiring from his seat in the U.S. Senate, which leaves it open for the 2020 election. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach just announced his candidacy which immediately received criticism from some fellow Republicans. Stephen Koranda and Bob Beatty discussed Kobach's strategy and what his chances of winning look like. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

(This story was updated at 2:15 p.m.)

LEAVENWORTH, Kansas — Republican former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced Monday that he’s running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Pat Roberts.

Kobach beat then-Gov. Jeff Colyer in the primary election last year — helped partly by a last-minute endorsement from President Donald Trump — but ultimately lost the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was growing frustrated with the limits of his office when it came to investigating voter fraud or election law violations. So, he gave lawmakers a choice.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Ty Masterson finally said it this week. He gave voice to what many Republicans had been thinking since November. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s election was a fluke.

“Her presence in the governor’s office is a tragic collision of timing,” Masterson, a state senator from Andover, told Associated Press Correspondent John Hanna.

As a result, Masterson said Kelly lacks a mandate from voters.

FILE PHOTO / Kansas News Service

Former Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach rewrote the rules for voting in Kansas. Laws he pushed for required voters to show citizenship papers to register and ID at the polls. He secured prosecutorial powers for his office. 

Kobach’s term only ended a couple weeks ago, but some cornerstones of his legacy are already starting to crumble.

NOMIN UJIYEDIIN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Kansas swore a new governor into office on Monday and saw the end of eight years of Republicans in the office.

New Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told supporters, and the Republican lawmakers she’s sure to clash with, that the state had lost its sense of community. That seemingly was a dig at predecessors Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer.

File photo / Kansas News Service

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and independent Greg Orman both funded much of their losing races for governor of Kansas through self-financing, campaign finance reports filed Thursday show.

Orman spent $1.28 million of his own cash on his campaign and raised about another $1 million from donors.  He also spent several thousand dollars on in-kind contributions, including software and staff lunches.

Netflix

Rather than just publishing a list of our most-read stories this year at KCUR.org, we've decided to make some observations about what a few of our most popular stories tell us about the communities we cover.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Read her lips

A month away from becoming the next governor of Kansas, Democrat Laura Kelly says she’s deep into budget preparation.

Although she’s been as steeped in the workings of state government as any Kansas wonk during her 14 years in the state Senate, the Topekan says agencies find themselves in worse repair than she imagined.

“The problems are broad,” she said, “and they’re deep.”

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Powers of McGruff

If a police officer in Kansas thinks they smell weed — even an unlit bud in a plastic bag six paces away — the state’s high court says that’s reason enough to launch a search.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled recently that an officer’s belief she smelled marijuana from 30 feet away was probable cause to sweep an apartment in Douglas County and ask for a search warrant.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Paging all adjuncts

Some five dozen University of Kansas professors and librarians decided to take up the school on its buyout offer. KU is looking to cut its faculty ranks, particularly instructors who weigh down the school’s payroll most heavily.

Stephen Koranda reports that about a fourth of the faculty eligible for the voluntary early retirement offer took the deal.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

It’s a family thing

An order issued by Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer now offers paid parental leave to about 17,000 state workers to cover their time off with a newborn or newly adopted child.

Colyer, a lame duck Republican, said in a statement issued on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday that he made the change to recognize the importance of children and families in the state.

Segment 1: The finale of My Fellow Kansans.

This election season was a doozy in Kansas. So we look back with one last episode of My Fellow Kansans, exploring the outcome of the governor's race and putting it in context.

Segment 2, beginning at 21:25: The marching band experience.

Marching bands keep spectator spirits high. But there's more to it than the music. KCUR intern Sofia Gillespie brings us this story.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Moved how many times?

One boy. In the care of the state since 2012. Shifted from one foster placement to the next. One hundred thirty times.

A lawsuit filed Friday argues cases like that — 130 was an extreme case, but more than 100 moves in Kansas foster care is not wildly unusual — show the system is operating so poorly it violates the constitutional rights of children.

In particular, it contends so many moves heap more trauma onto children already in crisis and that too many kids don’t get the mental health screening they should.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Well, fellow Kansans, it’s over.

Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly, running as the “fix-it” candidate on the premise that Kansas had gone off the rails, beat “full-throttle conservative” Kris Kobach in the race for governor.

Her win signaled Kansans’ desire to, if not reverse the state’s turn to the right, at least turn down the political rhetoric and focus on the basics.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

More beds or more services

Legislators heard Wednesday that Kansas either needs to improve a range of services for the mentally ill or to be prepared to more than double the number of psychiatric beds available. Or both.

Today, the state offers 258 slots in mental health hospitals. Madeline Fox reports that’s down from more than 1,000 beds in 1990. A report from January says the state needs 300 more.

file photo / Kansas News Service

If elections have consequences, the top-of-the-ticket win for Democrats in Kansas likely carries no more obvious upshot than the probable expansion of Medicaid in the state.

After years of unyielding opposition from former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his successor — Gov. Jeff Colyer — Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly looks positioned to broaden public health insurance coverage to tens of thousands more Kansans.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Aging out into problems

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation looking at what happens to older children in foster care shows Kansas roughly follows national trends — and paints a bleak picture for their entry into adulthood.

Some things stand out in Kansas:

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

A race that looked to be oh-so-close turned out to be a clear victory for Democrat Laura Kelly, the new governor-elect of Kansas.

On this mini episode of “My Fellow Kansans” we hear what Kelly had to say on election night and her explanation of what vaulted her to victory over Republican Secretary of State and conservative firebrand Kris Kobach. 

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Worse in Kansas

The foster care load in Kansas is growing faster than the rest of the country. Madeline Fox analyzed fresh national numbers on trends in children put into state custody and found that things are getting worse faster here than elsewhere.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Goodbye, Jeff. Hello, Kris?

I hated that he ran, because I would have loved to have brought him into my administration. In fact, if he loses, I’ll bring him into my administration in two seconds. — President Donald Trump stumping for Kris Kobach last month.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Kansas is America

Laura Kelly is the latest Democratic governor-elect of Kansas. She portrayed her win Tuesday as a victory for bipartisanship and an eagerness for civility in the state. After all, Kris Kobach represented, in his words, “full-throttled” conservatism engaged in “intellectual combat.”

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Democrat Laura Kelly fended off perhaps the most energizing and divisive figure in Kansas politics on Tuesday to become the next governor of Kansas.

Kelly beat out self-described “full-throttled” conservative GOP nominee Kris Kobach, the secretary of state who’d forged a kinship with President Donald Trump while dabbling in anti-immigration and voter fraud crusades across the country.

Protecting Your Vote

Nov 5, 2018

On the day before the midterm elections, we discuss the process of voting and how to ensure your vote is protected. Plus, a look at two recent episodes of My Fellow Kansans covering gubernatorial candidates Kris Kobach and Laura Kelly.

Guests:

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