Kansas Democratic attorney general nominee Chris Mann alleged GOP nominee Kris Kobach to be a threat to democracy and too focused on filing lawsuits against the administration of President Joe Biden. (Kansas Reflector screen capture Democratic Attorneys General Association livestream)
TOPEKA — Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Mann alleged Thursday that Republican opponent Kris Kobach presented a threat to democracy and was fixated on initiating long-distance ideological and legal conflict with President Joe Biden.
Mann, a former Lawrence police officer who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s primary, discussed the general election landscape with Democratic attorneys general and candidates from Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Delaware on a conference call organized by the Democratic Attorneys General Association.
“My opponent, Kris Kobach, has already proven he’s a threat to democracy and Kansans,” Mann said. “Here in Kansas, voters will face a very stark choice for attorney general. They have the option of electing Kris Kobach, a career politician who has promised to focus on his political ideologies. Or, they can elect me, a career public servant.”
Kobach campaign spokeswoman Danedri Herbert said Kobach would be a threat to the Biden administration’s unconstitutional agenda if elected attorney general.
Kobach proposed creation of a special unit of constitutional law specialists in the attorney general’s office that would pursue lawsuits against Biden. He said Kansas hadn’t done its share of work to push back against the Democratic president.
“He will serve as attorney general for all Kansans, defending and enforcing all the laws on the books,” Herbert said.
Kobach, who served two terms as secretary of state, won a three-candidate primary by defeating state Sen. Kellie Warren and former federal prosecutor Tony Mattivi. Kobach, who lost the 2020 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, secured 42% of the GOP vote Tuesday to prevail by 20,000 votes.
In response to a question about defending state abortion laws if elected attorney general, Mann said he would dedicate the office to public safety and service.
“On this issue,” Mann said, “I can tell you that my office will not waste the limited resources that we have on attacking womens’ reproductive rights.”
The topic of abortion is poignant because Kansas voters overwhelmingly defeated a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have declared women didn’t have a state constitutional right to abortion. Supporters of the amendment said all abortion regulations in Kansas were threatened, but state legislators and the governor could adopt more stringent prohibitions on abortion.
Preliminary figures from the secretary of state’s office indicated majorities in each of the state’s four congressional districts voted against the abortion amendent. Overall, 59% of Kansans casting ballots on the amendment were opposed to changing the state constitution.
Kobach was among Kansas Republicans who expressed support for the amendment drafted to nullify a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that identified the right to abortion in the state constitution’s Bill of Rights. The justices said the document guaranteed Kansas the right to bodily autonomy, which the court’s majority interpreted to include abortion.
On the conference call with Mann, Democratic Attorneys General Aaron Ford of Nevada, Kathy Jennings of Delaware, Dana Nessel of Michigan and Democratic nominee Kris Mayes of Arizona said they were disturbed by the agenda of Republican nominees Matt DePero in Michigan, Abe Hamadeh in Arizona and Kobach in Kansas.
There was consternation among these Democrats that voters endorsed Republican candidates linked to unproven election fraud conspiracy theories advanced by President Donald Trump. The Democratic Attorneys General Association declared DePerno, Kobach and Hamadeh “out-of-touch extremists.”
“American democracy very much runs through states like Arizona and Michigan and Kansas,” Mayes said. “Whether our democracy survives intact and healthy will be determined by what the voters do in these elections. I do not believe it is hyperbolic to say that.”
Ford, who will be challenged by GOP nominee Sigal Chattah, said the right to vote, peaceful transfer of power and abortion rights would be on the minds of voters in November when selecting each state’s top law enforcement officer.
“The future of American democracy can be determined by a handful of attorneys general,” Ford said.
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