Kansas and Ohio Races Remain Too Close to Call

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Republican primary for governor and Ohio’s high-stakes special election for Congress both remained too close to call on Wednesday morning, with razor-thin margins separating the candidates in each race.

With all precincts reporting in Kansas shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach was ahead of Gov. Jeff Colyer by just 191 votes out of more than 311,000 Republican ballots cast statewide. The results were likely to remain in flux for at least several days with an unknown number of mail-in ballots not yet counted, a full canvass of all votes still to come and the possibility of a recount looming.

As the state’s top election official, Mr. Kobach would be in charge of overseeing the canvass if he does not recuse himself.

President Trump had endorsed Mr. Kobach the day before the primary, hoping to help his close ally over the finish line and extend his own victory streak of presidential endorsements in competitive Republican primaries. Some Republican leaders were frustrated with Mr. Trump’s endorsement of Mr. Kobach, a hard-line conservative, because they saw Gov. Colyer as a stronger candidate in the November general election.

In Ohio, meanwhile, the Republican candidate for Congress, Troy Balderson, was ahead by 1,754 votes out of more than 202,000 ballots cast — a lead of nearly 1 percentage point. But 3,435 provisional ballots have yet to be counted. Ohio law provides for an automatic recount if the two candidates are ultimately separated by less than half a percentage point.

The Democratic candidate in Ohio, Danny O’Connor, has not conceded the race — he called it “a tied ballgame” on Tuesday night — and is set to face Mr. Balderson again in the November general election.

The Kansas race has attracted wide attention in part because of Mr. Kobach’s candidacy. Mr. Kobach and Mr. Colyer are both politically conservative, though with far different styles and personalities. Mr. Kobach, a Yale-educated lawyer, has for years burnished a national profile by drafting voter I.D. legislation and helping states and cities enact and defend restrictions on voting and immigration. He served as vice chairman of Mr. Trump’s voter fraud panel, which was disbanded after failing to find evidence of the widespread election rigging that the president claimed.

Mr. Colyer served seven years as Mr. Brownback’s lieutenant governor. Since taking over as governor about six months ago, he has tried to broker compromise on a longstanding school funding debate and has signed a law allowing state-contracted adoption agencies to reject gay couples on religious grounds.

Mr. Colyer said on Wednesday morning: “Given the historically close margin of the current tabulation, the presence of thousands of as yet uncounted provisional ballots and the extraordinary problems with the count, particularly in Johnson County, this election remains too close to call.”

“We are committed to ensuring that every legal vote is counted accurately throughout the canvassing process,” he added.

Kansas has long been among the reddest of red states. Republicans hold all six congressional positions, have carried the state in every presidential election since 1964 and supported Mr. Trump in 2016 by a nearly 21-point margin. Under former Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who resigned early this year to become an ambassador, the state became synonymous with a conservative tax-slashing experiment that led to budget cuts and revenue shortfalls.

The winner of the Kansas Republican primary will face Democratic nominee Laura Kelly.

Original Article

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