TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative hardliner Kris Kobach grabbed headlines from fundraisers with Donald Trump Jr. and gun-rights rocker Ted Nugent while relying on his running mate to finance their campaign to unseat Kansas’ governor in the Republican primary.
Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and sometime adviser to President Donald Trump known nationally for advocating strict voter identification rules and tough policies against illegal immigration, enjoyed a significant fundraising advantage over Gov. Jeff Colyer through last week. But it was only because Kobach’s choice for lieutenant governor, wealthy Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, has loaned the campaign more than .5 million, according to campaign finance records available online Tuesday.
Hartman made the first of his 16 loans, worth ,000, in early April, two weeks after joining Kobach’s ticket. The loans from Hartman represent the bulk of the .7 million Kobach has raised since the start of the year and the more than million he has raised overall for his campaign ahead of the Aug. 7 primary.
Kobach’s campaign did not immediately respond to questions about the loans Tuesday. In a recent fundraising email, Kobach’s campaign branded Colyer the “establishment candidate.”
Colyer is trying to win a full, four-year term since being elevated from lieutenant governor to governor in January, when former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback stepped down to take an ambassador’s post. Colyer, a reconstructive plastic surgeon, himself made three loans worth ,000 to Brownback’s re-election campaign in 2013 and 2014, two of which were repaid quickly.
But the governor has relied on donors in his current campaign, raising nearly .5 million, including more than ,000 since the start of the year. Spokesman Kendall Marr called Kobach’s reliance on Hartman for loans “stunning and troubling” and suggested it showed a lack of meaningful support.
“This race is really between two people,” Marr said in a text to the AP. “Governor Jeff Colyer, who is the clear leader in support, and Wink Hartman’s checkbook.”
Kobach has raised about ,000 in cash from donors overall, less than a third of it since the start of the year.
Kobach’s campaign also appears to be burning through its funds more quickly than Colyer’s campaign. Kobach has spent nearly million, the bulk of it since the start of the year, and had only about ,000 in cash on Thursday, the end of the period covered by the latest reports. Colyer has spent about .3 million and ended the period with about ,000.
No Kansas governor has lost a primary since 1956. This year’s GOP race has seven candidates.
Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .