Mann surrenders quest to overtake Kobach in Kansas race for attorney general

Kobach defies skeptics to pull off 17,000-vote, 100-county win

By: - November 11, 2022 11:37 am
Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Mann, right, conceded the race to Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach, a Republican who narrowly led since election night with uncounted mail and provisional ballots. (Photos by Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Mann, right, conceded the race to Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach, a Republican who narrowly led since election night with uncounted mail and provisional ballots. (Photos by Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Mann conceded the close race to Republican Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach despite incomplete results from mail and provisional ballots.

The latest unofficial totals from the secretary of state’s office showed Kobach with 498,869 or 50.8% of the vote and Mann with 481,506 or 49.1% of ballots counted. Mann won only five of the state’s 105 counties, but trailed Kobach by 17,363 votes.

Mann, a former Lawrence police officer, said Thursday the result wouldn’t likely change in coming days. He congratulated Kobach on election as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

“I ask him, on behalf of all Kansans, to put aside divisive politics and focus on the safety and security of all Kansans,” Mann said.

Kobach, a former secretary of state who lost a 2020 race for U.S. Senate and the 2018 race for governor, will replace Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who lost a campaign for governor against Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Kobach was opposed in the GOP primary by the Kansas Chamber and other prominent conservative politically oriented organizations.

“You got to love a comeback story, especially when we were outspent in every stage of the game and when some large establishment groups lined up against us,” Kobach said.

Mann carried the counties of Johnson, Douglas, Shawnee, Riley and Lyon. His 90,000-vote advantage in Johnson, Douglas and Shawnee counties didn’t hold up when votes from GOP-dominated rural counties where taken into account.

Outcome of the Mann-Kobach race in Sedgwick City mirrored the larger result. Out of nearly 149,000 votes cast, Kobach prevailed in the county by less than 1,800 votes.

Kobach said during the campaign and on election night he would dedicate himself to expanding Kansas’ role in filing lawsuits against the administration of President Joe Biden. As attorney general, he said, work on legal challenges to the Democratic president would grow.

“America is not a place where the constitution is optional or is ignored by an administration in Washington, D.C.,”  Kobach said. “If Joe Biden continues to violate the law, Kansas will lead the charge in taking him to court.”

Mann said his campaign for attorney general in a deep red state with a large Republican voter registration advantage centered on public service rather than politics. As a first-time candidate for public office running against a veteran of four previous statewide elections, Mann said he learned about “some good, some bad” features of the electoral process.

Mann said there was disappointment in outcome of close elections, but those divisions shouldn’t deter Kansans from demanding accountability from leaders of both parties.

“We must continue to work together to protect the rights of our friends and neighbors,” Mann said. “Continue to ask tough questions and demand answers. And, continue to make our voices heard on the issues we care about the most.”

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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