Trump backs conservative Kris Kobach for Kansas governor over incumbent

WASHINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed controversial conservative Kris Kobach's bid for governor of Kansas, rejecting the state's current Governor Jeff Colyer in a competitive state primary for the nomination.

Kobach, a national leader of the push to restrict illegal immigration and pass more restrictive voting laws, advised Trump's presidential campaign on immigration issues and served as vice chairman of Trump's short-lived voter fraud commission.

Kobach, the current Kansas secretary of state, and Colyer are running head-to-head in polls in a crowded primary contest on Tuesday for governor of the conservative state.

In a tweet, Trump called Kobach "a strong and early supporter of mine" and said he had the president's "full and total" endorsement. "Strong on Crime, Border & Military. VOTE TUESDAY!" Trump wrote.

Colyer, the former lieutenant governor, moved into the top job earlier this year when Republican Sam Brownback took a job in the Trump administration as a religious freedom ambassador.

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American politician Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as he speaks during a fundraiser for his gubernatorial campaign at an unidentified senior citizens center, Emporia, Kansas, October 28, 2017. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Kris Kobach, Kansass secretary of state, arrives to the initial meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. President Donald Trump created the advisory commission in May, after claiming without evidence that 3 million people or more illegally voted for Hillary Clinton last year. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Kris Kobach, Kansass secretary of state, left, listens during the initial meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. Trump created the advisory commission in May, after claiming without evidence that 3 million people or more illegally voted for Hillary Clinton last year. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: President-elect Donald Trump greets Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, at the clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster Township, N.J. on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach attends an election night party (for Ron Estes' Congressional special election victory), Wichita, Kansas, April 11, 2017. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (left) shakes hands with the state's Attorney General Derek Schmidt at an election night party (for Ron Estes' Congressional special election victory), Wichita, Kansas, April 11, 2017. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in a March 2016 file image in Wichita, Kan. A federal judge on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, found Kobach in contempt of court in a case involving Kansas voting laws, her latest rebuke of the Republican candidate for governor. (Fernando Salazar/Wichita Eagle/TNS via Getty Images)
TOPEKA, KS - FEBRUARY, 17: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach discusses the Kansas proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration in his office in Topeka, Ks. Wednesday February 17, 2015. (Photo by Christopher Smith/ For the Washington Post)
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Trump made no mention of the voter fraud commission in his endorsement, but Kobach was the leading proponent of a theory backed by the president that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election.

A federal court ruled against Kobach's claims of voter fraud in April and held him in contempt for violating an injunction meant to safeguard voting rights. (Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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