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Colyer campaign hires former U.S. Attorney as legal counsel for election issues

Kansas governor speaks a day after close primary race

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer spoke to reporters Wednesday, a day after primary election results showed him 191 votes behind challenger Kris Kobach. (Aug. 8, 2018)
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Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer spoke to reporters Wednesday, a day after primary election results showed him 191 votes behind challenger Kris Kobach. (Aug. 8, 2018)

Gov. Jeff Colyer’s campaign has hired former U.S. Attorney and current Missouri Republican Party chairman Todd Graves to assist with the legal labyrinth in the canvass and likely recount in Tuesday’s too-close-to-call gubernatorial primary election.

Colyer trails Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach by a mere 153 votes as of Friday afternoon, according to the sporadically updated secretary of state website. Tuesday’s contest could be one of the closest gubernatorial primaries in history.

Kobach’s lead has fluctuated since initial results on Wednesday showed he picked up 191 more votes than Colyer. Counties have changed and corrected reported vote counts since Wednesday while provisional ballots are still being counted.

Kobach, who as secretary of state is the chief election official in Kansas, agreed on Thursday to recuse himself from any role in a vote recount. Kobach’s office has already drawn criticism from Colyer for allegedly instructing county clerks to disregard certain mail-in ballots.

“The efforts the past two days by the Secretary of State to discard valid ballots has made it clear that we need counsel to ensure that all Kansans’ votes are counted,” Colyer’s campaign said in a statement to The Star. “Governor Colyer is confident that Todd Graves’ experience as a US Attorney and, in particular, his expertise in election law will be a valuable asset as we navigate this process.”

Graves is no stranger to the spotlight and to high profile legal cases.

Most recently, Graves’ law firm represented members of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ staff as various investigations swirled around the scandal-plagued administration.

Graves was a Platte County prosecutor before President George W. Bush appointed him U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri in 2001. Graves served in that role until 2006.

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