Roger Marshall wins Kansas GOP Senate primary, defeating Kris Kobach

Democrats were optimistic about winning a rare Senate seat in Kansas if conservative firebrand Kobach took the primary Tuesday.

Updated: August 5, 2020 - 12:03pm

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Rep. Roger Marshall won Kansas's Tuesday GOP Senate primary, defeating Kris Kobach and a slew of other contenders vying for the nomination.

In Kansas, former Secretary of State Kris Kobach was running for the open seat of retiring GOP Sen. Pat Roberts. While Kobach remains a popular political figure among conservatives, in large part for his tough immigration stance, his victory would have energized Democrats who thought they could beat him in the general election en route to taking control of the Senate. 

Democrats need a net win of at least four seats this cycle to control the upper chamber, with no Democrat having held a Kansas Senate seat in roughly a decade.

In another Kansas GOP contest incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins, who is facing "felony charges of voter fraud," according to Politico, was defeated by state Treasurer Jake LaTurner. 

Voters went to the polls Tuesday in five states, marking one of the most compelling primary nights of the election cycle, with progressives testing their hold on the Democratic Party and a GOP primary playing a key role in who controls the Senate after November. The five states were Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.

In Michigan, progressive firebrand and Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib faces a formidable challenge from City Council President Brenda Jones.

Tlaib defeated Jones in 2018 and rose to national prominence as a member of the so-called “Squad,” the group of four progressive House freshmen Democrats led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

However, Tlaib has faced criticism about appearing to put her Washington profile ahead of the needs of her Detroit-area district and its voters.

"As Michigan's 13th Congressional District Representative, Tlaib has worked hard to become an international rock star," Jones tweeted in late July. "Representative Tlaib has a huge war chest of nearly $2 million. The money in Rashida Tlaib's war chest is mostly from people around the world."

Tlaib has a huge fundraising advantage, but Jones has close ties to district politics and voters, including those most concerned about their voice in Washington.

In another potential test of progressives' influence in the Democratic Party, 10-term Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay is facing a strong primary challenge from Cori Bush, who is backed by Justice Democrats, the progressive group that orchestrated Ocasio-Cortez's upset victory over long-time New York Rep. Joe Crowley.

Clay defeated Bush in 2018 by 20 percentage points in the St. Louis-area race. But other establishment candidates this election cycle have faced close races or have lost to progressives.

Sixteen-term New York Rep. Elliot Engel lost his 2020 primary race to progressive Jamaal Bowman. And New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney's reelection bid against progressive-backed Suraj Patel remains undecided six weeks after Election Day, in part because of problems with mail-in ballots.  

In Kansas, Kobach was soundly defeated in his 2018 gubernatorial bid. President Trump endorsed Kobach's candidacy but has not backed a candidate in the Senate primary.

In Arizona, 88-year-old Joe Arpaio is trying to win back his seat as sheriff of Maricopa County, a post he once held for 24 years. 

Arpaio was pardoned by President Trump in 2017 after being convicted on a misdemeanor charge of criminal contempt in connection with his hard-line tactics on illegal immigration. 

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