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

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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.

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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 County 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.”

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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More Election 2022 coverage:

Schmidt blasts Kelly’s justice commission despite his affirmation of racial bias by Kansas police

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Republican governor candidate Derek Schmidt’s new campaign commercials castigate Gov. Laura Kelly for creating in 2020 a Commission on Racial Equity and Justice to search for solutions to problems within Kansas law enforcement agencies, despite affirming in October 2020 that he believed racial bias was present within Kansas law enforcement.

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