Days after the Kansas gubernatorial primary election, only 191 votes separate incumbent Republican Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer from his challenger, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and things are getting very tense.
On Thursday night, Kobach agreed to recuse himself from overseeing the recount of his own race—something he had previously declined to do. This came after Colyer demanded that Kobach stop interacting with the people who are counting the votes that could make him governor, and accused him of providing incorrect information to election officials.
Colyer wrote in a public letter to Kobach:
It has come to my attention that your office is giving advice to county election officials — as recently as a conference call yesterday — and you are making public statements on national television which are inconsistent with Kansas law and may serve to suppress the vote in the ongoing Kansas primary election process
Since Tuesday’s election, Kobach and Colyer have sparred over vote counting. On Wednesday, Kobach told Fox News that the mail-in ballots had been counted, though Kansas law allows ballots mailed on Tuesday that arrive by Friday to be counted.
There were also apparent discrepancies between the total number of votes in some counties and what was reported by the state. According to the New York Times:
Vote totals have already shifted, and will continue to do so. In rural Thomas County, in northwestern Kansas, the state had recorded 422 votes for Mr. Colyer when he had actually received 522. The change meant that Mr. Colyer in fact carried Thomas County, where Mr. Kobach received 466 votes, and it halved Mr. Kobach’s statewide lead. [...]
Local news outlets found at least two other counties where the vote totals on the county website strayed from those reported by the state. Officials in Mr. Kobach’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Thursday afternoon and evening, and it was unclear what those variations would mean for the overall count.
On Thursday night, Kobach gave in. “I’ll be happy to recuse myself,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
Kobach, who is supported by President Trump, is known for backing policies that lead to voter suppression and his opposition to undocumented immigrants. Colyer has only been in office for seven months. Some Democrats see the GOP infighting as an opportunity to take the governorship in Kansas. “There’s no place I’d rather be as a Democrat right now,” the chairman of the Kansas Democratic Party said on Thursday.