Steve Rose

Kris Kobach’s Republican primary challenger, Scott Morgan, shows courage

Lawrence Republican Scott Morgan, who is challenging Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the August primary, criticizes his opponent for moonlighting on legal issues outside the state.
Lawrence Republican Scott Morgan, who is challenging Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the August primary, criticizes his opponent for moonlighting on legal issues outside the state. The Associated Press

Scott Morgan is my hero.

He is a Republican courageous enough to go up against Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, in the Aug. 5 primary election.

Morgan is a man you’ve probably never heard of unless you live in his hometown of Lawrence where he served four terms on the school board, including as president.

Morgan, an attorney, has served as counsel for Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, as well as having served on the Federal Election Commission.

He is a moderate Republican who will wage a campaign against a bigger-than-life opponent whose followers believe he walks on water.

Kobach travels the country, crafting and consulting on — and defending in court — anti-immigration laws while raking in a small fortune. Kobach claims these efforts are on his own time.

Morgan will campaign primarily on the theme that Kobach does not want to be secretary of state, and that Kobach views his moonlighting jobs as his top priority. Morgan argues Kobach has not been a full-time secretary of state.

Morgan will take that message across the state but particularly to Johnson County, “where the votes are,” according to Morgan.

Kobach has also gained national attention for his voting roadblocks, which he claims were put in place to prevent voter fraud rather than to suppress the votes of the poor, who usually vote Democratic.

Because of Kobach-authored voting laws, which require a birth certificate or passport to register to vote, more than 18,000 Kansas voters are in limbo because they haven’t provided the documents to prove U.S. citizenship.

Kobach’s callous and arrogant comments on this subject are very revealing.

He told the Lawrence Journal World, regarding the stymied would-be voters, “All they have to do from their couch tonight is take their smartphone, and take a picture of their birth certificate or passport. Email it from their smartphone. Done.”

He must be joking.

It apparently has not occurred to Kobach that many of these 18,000 individuals do not know how to use a smartphone in this manner, if they even have one; do not have handy a birth certificate or passport; and would not know where to email the photo even if they had taken such a picture.

But Kobach will be running for re-election to a second term not on immigration or voting laws.

Rather, he has come out with guns blazing as the candidate who will protect state sovereignty.

Where did that come from? What role does a secretary of state play in state sovereignty? Such issues are usually in the purview of the governor or state attorney general.

No matter. Morgan is right. Kobach cares little about his elected position. He is much more focused on grander issues.

Kobach will be extremely difficult to beat in a Republican primary, historically dominated by the conservative wing. And if Kobach gets over that hurdle, he will be the clear frontrunner against a Democrat, former State Sen. Jean Schodorf of Wichita, who changed parties from Republican to Democrat.

Morgan, though certainly the underdog, win-or-lose, will challenge the right wing of the Republican Party, which Kobach epitomizes.

Kris Kobach will have the name identification, the money and the loyal constituency who get out and vote in August.

Morgan’s message is that Kansans must stop Kobach and elect a real, full-time secretary of state.

The message, though accurate, probably is not enough to win. But at least Scott Morgan is a viable, bold alternative for Republicans who cannot stomach Kobach.

To reach Steve Rose, a longtime Johnson County columnist, send email to