Her victory over a key ally of the president comes two years after the state overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump.
Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly has won the Kansas governor’s race, defeating Kansas secretary of state and Donald Trump ally Kris Kobach.
Kansans chose to elect a Democratic governor just two years after supporting Trump by over 20 percentage points. Polls showed a tied race heading into Election Day, but Kelly ended up with a fundraising edge over Kobach, a controversial figure with a national profile.
While Kansas is frequently thought of as a deep-red state, former Gov. Sam Brownback (R) left office this year as one of the least popular governors in the country. He resigned to take a job in the Trump administration. Polls also showed that a large number of voters in the state had a negative view of Kobach, who had risen to prominence as a conservative hard-liner on voting restrictions and immigration.
Despite Kobach’s rising star in the GOP, two Republican former governors and a former U.S. senator for Kansas endorsed Kelly. Among his more controversial proposals, Kobach had vowed to reimplement Brownback’s steep tax cuts, which were so disastrous for the state’s economy that Republicans repealed them. Kelly’s campaign consistently sought to tie Kobach to Brownback.
Kelly’s win is also a defeat for Trump, who is close with Kobach and who traveled to the state to campaign for him. Vice President Mike Pence also stumped for Kobach.