Will there be a Trump bump for either Kris Kobach in the race for Governor or Steve Watkins in the 2nd District Congressional race? A Washburn University political scientist has his doubts.
“The idea of bringing Trump in is that, Trump voters that are there in the arena and that see it on TV will actually go vote,” said Bob Beatty of Washburn. “We like to think that passionate people about politics or candidates go and vote, but they don’t always. It’s rather amazing. That’s the idea, is get these people out to vote in a close race for Kobach and Steve Watkins, but there’s people that don’t like Trump. There’s people that don’t like Kobach. Seeing it on TV, for example, could motivate them to go vote.”
Beatty thinks it might all just be a wash for the local candidates, but he’s sure Trump was pleased with the event.
“There’s not that many politicians that can get 10,000 people,” said Beatty. “Trump, Bernie Sanders and Obama are the three that come to mind. It’s an ego trip, I mean, just watching him, of course. He went to Mississippi and didn’t mention the local candidates til over 30 minutes into his actual speech. He’s there. He’s doing what Presidents do, but he’s loving it.”
Beatty believes that Trump’s failure to mention 3rd District Representative Kevin Yoder was intentional.
“Trump is not that popular in the 3rd District,” said Beatty. “One poll has him at about a 40 percent approval. That’s not a winning strategy for Kevin Yoder. In fact, the last couple of weeks Yoder has conspicuously moderated, moved to the middle, at one point saying he would work with Barack Obama, which is supposed to be a cardinal sin.”
The Democratic opponents of Kris Kobach and Steve Watkins largely kept quiet during the President’s visit, as well.
“The strategy of Paul Davis and Laura Kelly is, we do not, we’re not nationalizing this election,” said Beatty. “We want to focus on Brownback. We want to focus on Kansas. We want to focus on Steve Watkins, the person. Leave Trump out of it. We’re not out to demonize Republicans.”
It remains to be seen if that will be a winning strategy for either one. Trump called them both out by name from the lectern Saturday night and then attempted to nationalize the race by railing against the Democrats as a whole.