When Bill Graves plunged into Kansas politics in 1986 to run for secretary of state, he needed more than just money and statewide support. “One of the hardest challenges on the campaign trail was to explain what the secretary of state did. I mean, why should it matter?” the former governor told historians. “How do you generate some energy?” Experts don’t expect that to be a problem for Kris Kobach, the current Republican secretary of state who has been a polarizing figure partly because of his efforts in Kansas and beyond to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Kobach is running for a second term. He has drawn Democratic opposition from Jean Schodorf, a former Republican state senator from Wichita defeated in the conservative sweep of 2012. Schodorf was part of the moderate Republican leadership team that controlled the state Senate until 2012. She grew up on a farm in southeast Kansas. Her brother is Bill Kurtis, the Kansas television personality who hosted the long-running A&E series “Investigative Reports.”
Experts believe the race probably will get every bit as much attention — if not more — than Gov. Sam Brownback’s bid for re-election.
And all for a job that is, as the name suggests, somewhat secretarial. The Kansas secretary of state mostly oversees elections and is the chief bookkeeper of business records.
“What used to be a sleepy race might be as big as a gubernatorial race,” said Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political scientist whose interview with Graves was published in Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains.