A GOP-aligned group has emerged in Kansas to mount a massive ad campaign to stop the candidacy of Kris Kobach, an anti-immigration firebrand and voter-fraud crusader whose primary campaign has sparked fears among GOP leaders that he could jeopardize a seat crucial to keeping control of the chamber.
Plains PAC filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 1 and has booked more than $2 million in television and radio ads to air from now until August 3, the day before the GOP primary, according to Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. The group has informed television stations that it plans to drop negative ads against Kobach, according to sources familiar with the effort.
After CNN reported on the effort Monday night, the group publicly announced its plans on Tuesday morning, attacking Kobach’s record and saying his loss in the 2018 gubernatorial race means he can’t win a Senate race in November. The group said it will launch a multimedia campaign — worth $3 million — with its first ad emphasizing Kobach’s “ties to white nationalists.”
“Kris Kobach gave Kansans the most liberal governor in our history,” Plains PAC Executive Director CJ Grover said in a statement. “Kansas Republicans support President Trump and his positive vision for America, but not Kobach’s consistent affiliation with a toxic ideology explicitly rejected by the President and Kansans of all stripes. Plains PAC’s mission is to remind primary voters why a vote for Kobach is too big a risk for our future.”
Kobach campaign spokeswoman Danedri Herbert called the attacks “false,” saying that “Kris Kobach doesn’t have ties to white nationalists, and he never has.” She said that the campaign “immediately severed ties” with an “independent contractor” once it found out he had “posted statements supporting that garbage.”
“Accusing Kris Kobach of accepting contributions from white nationalists is another false attack that was originally launched by Democrats,” added Herbert. “Mitch McConnell and his DC cronies should keep their lies and dark money out of the Kansas Senate race.”
The group’s FEC filing says its first report is due on August 20.
The group’s media buyer, Mentzer Media Services, has worked on behalf of Republicans, including Senate candidates and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Mentzer Media Services and the Senate Leadership Fund did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kobach is facing 10 Republican candidates including his top rival, Rep. Roger Marshall, an obstetrician-gynecologist who represents the same solidly Republican, farm-focused district from which former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole, Sen. Jerry Moran and the retiring Sen. Pat Roberts built the base of their power.
Other GOP candidates include Bob Hamilton, who owns a plumbing company, and Dave Lindstrom, a former Kansas City Chiefs player and businessman.
Some Kansas GOP political strategists are worried about state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former Republican running for the Democratic nomination, who has quickly raised millions of dollars and could defeat Kobach in the general election, pointing to his loss in the 2018 gubernatorial race to Democrat Laura Kelly.
Kobach’s campaign has noted that while Democrats have long been competitive for offices in Kansas, they haven’t won a US Senate race since 1932.
This story has been updated to include additional information about the group and the ad buy and comments from the Kobach campaign.