Kobach to recuse himself from Kansas governor's race recount

Aug 10 (Reuters) - Kris Kobach, the Republican candidate endorsed by U.S. President Donald Trump in the Kansas governor's race, said he plans to recuse himself from the vote recount after a correction in the total cut his lead to just 91 votes.

Kobach told CNN late on Thursday that as Kansas's current secretary of state, he has no role in the counting or recounting of provisional ballots, and that all the work is done at the county level.

"So there's really no point to it, but I said if my opponent wishes me to I'd be happy to. But it's purely symbolic," Kobach said. "I'll be happy to recuse myself."

In a letter to Kobach on Thursday, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer wrote that some clerks were given wrong information about which ballots to count and requested that Kobach recuse himself from "rendering further advice in these matters."

SEE ALSO: Kobach's lead in Kansas race falls to 91 votes

"I believe that the designation of the Attorney General as a neutral party to advise county election officials on these matters will help ensure the confidence of the voting public in the outcome of the primary election," Colyer wrote.

Kobach leads Colyer in the Republican primary by a razor-thin margin of 126,257 to 126,066, with potentially thousands more provisional and absentee ballots outstanding.

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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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Thomas County Clerk Shelly Harms confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that Colyer's vote total had been corrected to 522, up 100 votes from the 422 initially reported.

Kobach told CNN he would formally respond to Colyer's request that he recuse himself on Friday.

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

In a Twitter post on Monday, 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 as the Trump administration's ambassador for religious freedom.

Kansas state law allows for a recount if the vote margin is within half a percentage point, but the candidate has to request the recount. The candidate who requests the recount must pay for it if the results are unchanged by that process, Kobach has said. (Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York;)

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