As Kris Kobach hosted VIP guests and the president’s son at an Overland Park hotel Tuesday evening, roughly 80 protesters gathered at a nearby park to accuse the GOP candidate for Kansas governor of racism, nativism and fear-mongering.
Mari-Lynn Poskin, a 52-year-old Leawood resident who attended the protest in Shannon Valley Park, held a sign that referred to the Republican as “Kansas’ Kris Kobach,” highlighting the letter K in each word.
Poskin, a lifelong Republican, said that she never voted for a Democrat for president until 2016 when her opposition to Donald Trump made her vote begrudgingly for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
She called Kobach a white supremacist and said that if he won her party’s nomination for governor in 2018, she would definitely vote for a Democrat instead of him.
Speakers repeatedly blasted Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state, for his support of tougher immigrations laws and new restrictions on voting.
“His love of the Founding Fathers should not translate to going back to a time when only wealthy white men can vote,” said Patricia “Peezy” Mullins, an activist with Indivisible Kansas City who spoke at the protest.
Kobach has repeatedly rejected accusations of racial bias during his career.
Rev. Rodney Williams, the president of the Kansas City chapter of the NAACP, quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” when the Missouri resident was asked about his decision to protest a candidate in Kansas. King wrote that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
“There’s injustice in Kansas,” Williams said, referring to Kobach and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, who traveled to Kansas to support Kobach’s campaign for governor.
Theresa Sahhar, 56, of Olathe, held a sign decorated with lights that said “Stop Kobach.” She said she was not politically active until the elder Trump’s campaign for president spurred her to become a Democratic precinct member.
The possibility of Kobach as governor has pushed her to stay active, she said.
“I’ve never been political in my life, but I’m doing everything I can because I feel like this is an emergency,” she said. “This is new for me. I have never made so many signs in my life.”