A rare bird was spotted in Kansas on Wednesday: the moderate Republican, a variety of politician elected on the virtues of solid governance on issues affecting Kansans, working across the aisle and avoiding wasting time on culture war issues.
Let’s see if a habitat exists to support him.
Scott Morgan filed to oppose Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the Aug. 5 primary. Morgan’s vitae is old-school Republican. He worked for Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Landon Kassebaum. An attorney, he was chief counsel to Gov. Mike Hayden. A former owner of a publishing company, he says he understands the challenges that businesses face in meeting guidelines that the secretary of state oversees.
Morgan, of Lawrence, lost a 1990 bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery and a 2008 race for the state senate. Morgan’s challenge is rounding up votes from independents and Republicans who want a Kansas focus from the secretary of state.
Kobach has built a reputation for moonlighting — crafting and consulting on immigration laws nationally, then defending them in court. Morgan is thoughtfully questioning some of these laws, wondering what type of Republican believes it is a good idea to have all residents register at the police station and sign affidavits before they’re allowed to rent a home. Talk about government intrusion.
And surely Republicans exist who are avid hunters, believe strongly in the Second Amendment and yet see the daffiness in legislation to void federal gun laws in the state, possibly stifling the role of the FBI or drug enforcement officers. Kobach stands to gain financially from such a 2013 gun law he helped draft. It made firearms manufactured in Kansas exempt from federal regulation if the gun remains in Kansas. Kobach is a shareholder of Minuteman Defense of Overland Park, which plans to manufacturer rifles.
His work around election reform is similarly troubled. Everyone wants elections to be fair. But Kobach made a mockery of the election process by proceeding full-bore behind a solution to nonexistent fraud. No shock things went awry. At one point, his efforts had nearly 20,000 Kansas voters caught in a no man’s land of ineligibility.
Moderate Republican voters aren’t endangered. They exist. But they’ll need to show up at the polls to return the secretary of state’s office to its intended purpose — work that is sensible for Kansas.