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Kansas Republican Primary Takes “Decisively Darker Turn” as GOP Candidates, Groups Dump Millions Into Negative Ads

Republicans Nervous About Defending Kansas Seat As Democrat Barbara Bollier Breaks Fundraising Records

The messy Kansas primary has already caused “a headache” for Republicans worried about losing a state they have taken for granted, and now the primary is taking a “decisively darker turn” as “negative ads begin flying.” A new super PAC group linked to Mitch McConnell launched a “doozy” of an ad against Kris Kobach, while Congressman Roger Marshall and businessman Bob Hamilton are “engaged in a tit-for-tat.”

Whoever emerges from Republicans’ bruising primary will face a “strong candidate” in physician Barbara Bollier. Bollier’s impressive fundraising prowess is making Republicans nervous––Bollier has posted the biggest fundraising numbers of the entire field, most recently breaking Kansas records in Q2, and remains in a dead heat with the Republican candidates according to a recent poll.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

POLITICO: Kansas airwaves turn negative
By Zach Montellaro and James Arkin

  • The Kansas GOP Senate primary has been full of hand-wringing for a while now. But now, the airwaves are taking a decisively darker turn, as negative ads begin flying in the race.
  • A new, pop-up super PAC called Plains PAC is launching a multi-million campaign against Kris Kobach, who national Republicans fear will turn what should be a fairly straightforward race into a contested Senate seat. As we noted in Tuesday’s Score, Plains PAC was launching a negative ad against Kobach. The ad is a doozy: It calls him a “failed candidate for governor” who has “ties to white nationalists.”
  • Kobach’s campaign said in a statement that he “doesn’t have ties to white nationalists, and he never has,” while attacking the group as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “establishment attack dogs.”
  • But that is far from the only negative ad on the airwaves. Marshall and self-funding businessman Bob Hamilton are engaged in a tit-for-tat on the airwaves right now. Hamilton has released ads that target Marshall, and Marshall has run negative ads of his own attacking Hamilton as well. (Much of Marshall’s attacks have seemingly originated from the site RedKansas.com, which houses a research document from the firm Cascade Strategies, various media clips of Marshall’s opponents and b-roll of the congressman. There is no paid-for on the site.) Marshall has also run ads attacking Kobach, and Kobach has done the same.
  • All the while, Democrat Barbara Bollier has slipped by relatively unscathed. Bollier has a clear path to the Democratic nomination, and there’s been no TV spending against her.

AP: GOP establishment boosting Kansas congressman’s Senate bid
By John Hanna

  • Establishment Republicans who’d been coy for months about the GOP primary for Kansas’ open Senate seat are increasingly putting their thumbs on the scale, hoping to push Rep. Roger Marshall to victory over polarizing conservative Kris Kobach.
  • Establishment Republicans have increasingly taken the extra step of rallying to Marshall’s cause after months of publicly doubting Kobach’s ability to win the November general election because of his loss in the 2018 governor’s race. They’re growing more vocal about describing Marshall as the best alternative for keeping the Kansas seat out of play in a potentially difficult fall for defending Republicans’ Senate majority.
  • Republicans are nervous partly because of the fundraising prowess of the presumed Democratic nominee, state Sen. Barbara Bollier, who reported Wednesday that she has collected more than $7 million in contributions through June — including a likely Kansas record of $3.7 million in the second quarter of the year alone — and entered July with $4 million in cash. Bollier also is a former lifelong Republican, having switched parties late in 2018, and is expected to appeal strongly to GOP moderates and independent voters, particularly in the state’s most populous counties, which carried Kelly to victory in 2018. And Bollier is a retired anesthesiologist and is expected to highlight health care issues in the fall.
  • Kobach is weaponizing Marshall’s establishment support to help keep conservatives in his camp.
  • “McConnell World doesn’t want a staunch conservative who can’t be told to compromise,” Kobach said. “They want a pliable Republican who will take orders from McConnell.”

Kansas City Star: Is Kansas in play this fall? Democrat Bollier sets fundraising record in Senate race
By Bryan Lowry

  • Kansas Democrat Barbara Bollier raised more in a three-month period than any candidate in Kansas history for federal, state or local office, her campaign announced Wednesday.
  • Bollier’s U.S. Senate campaign took $3.7 million in contributions from April through June, a quarterly record in the state. The Mission Hills doctor and state senator hopes to be the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race in the GOP-leaning state since 1932. Her campaign said it has more than $4 million cash on hand.
  • However, national Republicans have expressed concerns since last year that the potential nomination of former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could put the seat in play on the heels of his defeat in the 2018 race for governor.

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