When the head of the Kansas Republican Party had agreed to speak to the Wichita Pachyderm Club Friday about looking ahead to the general election, he wasn't expecting the party to still be lacking a candidate for Governor.
"And it doesn't look like we're going to have one anytime soon," said Jim Joice, the executive director for the Kansas Republican Party.
"But that's alright," Joice said. "That's not going to slow us down."
While the party waits to find out whether Gov. Jeff Colyer or Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be the GOP nominee, the party will instead focus on down-ballot races.
The room, filled with Republican candidates and elected officials, took Joice's cue and focused their questions on other topics. Thoseranged from his current initiatives — "for the most part it's just professionalizing the party" — to the possibility of a visit from President Trump before the election — "I would be pretty surprised if we don’t see the president."
The one question that touched on the drama between the Republican gubernatorial candidates asked whether Kobach would have a tougher time in the general election than Colyer because of Kobach being considered further to the right.
"Either of our candidates will beat both Democrats on the ballot," Joice said.
When asked whether the party agrees with Kobach's plan to campaign as the presumed nominee until proven otherwise, Joice had no comment. But he disagreed with Kobach's assertion that waiting for the official nominee would hurt the party.
"We're still full steam ahead," Joice said. "It's down ballot races, and the most pressing issue for us, the national party is making sure we control the majority of congress."
Joice says the party will wait for the Secretary of State's office to declare the official Republican nominee.
"If results are challenged past that we'll take those punches as they come," Joice said.
Stephan Bisaha is an education reporter for KMUW and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha.
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