Kansas Republicans argue over replacement for Senator Pat Roberts

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Fighting within the Kansas Republican Party is leading one United States Senate candidate to call for the party chairman to resign.

The GOP Chairman, Mike Kuckelman, is asking that candidates that don’t have a path to victory drop out. That includes state Senate President Susan Wagle and Kansas Turnpike Authority Chairman Dave Lindstrom.

That has made Lindstrom to want Kuckelman removed from the position.

“Because of his lack of leadership, because of his lack of confidence in the Kansas voters to decide who they want as their next U.S Senator, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to ask for Mike’s resignation,” Lindstrom said. “I think that whenever you take away the Kansas voters’ options, who they can vote for, it’s not a good thing.”

Senator Pat Roberts is not seeking re-election this year, which means Republicans are scrambling to figure out who will fill the seat that will become open for the first time in more that two decades.

Kuckelman said clearing the field will help the party pick a person that can win in November.

“It has nothing to do with personal preferences,” Kuckelman said. “The only preference I have in this race is for the Republican Party to keep that seat because it’s not only important to the state of Kansas, that seat could determine the control of the United States Senate. To stay in the race challenges our resources, because, you see, we’re spreading out all of our volunteers, that takes up volunteer time, it spreads the dollars out among too many people.”

Kuckelman wants to give voters a choice between the two leading candidates in polls. That’s Congressman Roger Marshall and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach said the intentions behind the move may be an effort to keep him from winning the primary.

“A lot of people suspect, and I think reasonably, that the chairman doesn’t like the way things are right now,” Kobach said.

He said this isn’t what the chairman should be doing.

“It’s really not his role to decide how many people are on the ballot, and the notion that more people is a problem, I don’t get that. It’s not as if voters are confused by multiple names, they can decide which person best represents them,” Kobach said.

“I was party chairman 12 years ago, and I wouldn’t have dreamed in intervening in a U.S. Senate race, or in a city council race,” Kobach said. “The idea that the party chairman tells which people to be on the ballot and which people to get off the ballot, that’s just crazy. That’s not how our party has operated. The people get to decide.”

Kuckelman has taken notice that the leading Democrat, Barbara Bollier, has already raised a substantial amount of money and is running her campaign for the general election.

“As Republicans we need to rally around one, and if we can’t rally around one, we need to rally around two, and have our two strongest candidates, let them run it off and see who’s our best option to beat the Democrats and keep this seat,” Kuckelman said.

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