President Trump turned aside the advice of party officials and intervened in the Kansas Republican primary for governor Monday, throwing his support behind the polarizing secretary of state, Kris Kobach, one day before voters go to the polls there.
In a tweet that Republican governors and some of his own aides had sought to avert, Mr. Trump called Mr. Kobach “a fantastic guy” and offered his “full & total endorsement.”
Mr. Kobach is running against Gov. Jeff Colyer, who succeeded Sam Brownback, and a handful of other Republicans in a contest that had been highly competitive. But Mr. Trump’s blessing is now likely to lift Mr. Kobach, who is best-known for his hard-line views on immigration and voting rights.
The Republican Governor’s Association and a number of high-level party operatives counseled Mr. Trump against siding with Mr. Kobach, because polls show he is unpopular with the general electorate in Kansas and would provide Democrats an opening to take back the governorship.
Mr. Kobach had endorsed Mr. Trump shortly before Kansas’s presidential nominating caucus, and has developed a rapport with the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr. And he served earlier this year as a member of the administration’s short-lived voter integrity commission.