Republican Kris Kobach, perhaps America’s leading proponent of voter suppression, was defeated in his race for Kansas governor on Tuesday night.
It was a stunning defeat; Kobach is one of the biggest backers of voter disenfranchisement and anti-immigrant policies in the country. As of publication, independent candidate Greg Orman was on track to finish a distant third behind the two major-party candidates.
Kelly, a state senator, is the first Democrat to be elected governor of Kansas since Kathleen Sebelius in 2006. She did so after dozens of GOP heavyweights in the state—including former U.S. Sens. Nancy Kasselbaum and Sheila Frahm and former Gov. Bill Graves—endorsed her, in what can only be read as anti-Kobach desperation. Even the treasurer of Orman’s campaign, the former Republican state senator Tim Owens, resigned in the final days of the race and backed Kelly, although the pro-Kobach camp is sure to argue that Orman’s candidacy tipped the scales for Kelly in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 2 to 1.
First elected as Secretary of State in 2010, Kobach’s impact has gone far beyond Kansas’ borders with the implementation of the resolutely incompetent Interstate Crosscheck System, which ostensibly was supposed to root out the non-existent problem of voter fraud. Kobach’s efforts on this front garnered him the attention of President Donald Trump, a vocal supporter of the voter fraud myth who made Kobach the vice chairman of a presidential commission on “electoral integrity.” The commission was later disbanded after states refused to provide voter data.
During her campaign, Kelly ran on improving the state’s education system, which has fallen into crisis as a result of the policies of former Gov. Sam Brownback (who resigned in January to take a job as President Donald Trump’s ambassador for international religious freedom).
For Kansas, the result is a reprieve from years of far-right governance. For Kobach, it’s a fitting embarrassment for one of the absolute worst people in contemporary politics. Good riddance, motherfucker.