US & Canada

Kris Kobach: From Trumpian apprentice to Kansas governor?

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Image caption Mr Kobach speaks to supporters on election night as the votes were still coming in.

Kris Kobach, a hardline conservative, has won the Republican primary for Kansas governor.

He won by only a razor-thin margin - 345 votes out of more than 300,000 - after his rival, existing Governor Jeff Colyer, conceded defeat.

Trump loyalist Mr Kobach is known for his outspoken views on immigration and voter fraud.

As a US Department of Justice official in 2001, he created a programme that required people from "higher risk" countries to be fingerprinted and interrogated when they came into the US.

Some men who lived in the US - and were from countries that were seen as a threat - were required to register at government offices.

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Image caption His campaign vehicle bore a machinegun and a Trump doll on the bonnet
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The initiative, which was known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, was criticised by civil rights advocates and eventually dismantled.

More recently he's claimed without evidence that millions of people voted illegally in the US in 2016, costing President Donald Trump the popular vote.

Mr Kobach's positions on immigration and voter fraud may be unsettling for liberals.

But his views are popular among individuals in power.

The US president endorsed Mr Kobach's candidacy shortly before the election and may have determined its outcome.

Mr Kobach, a graduate of Harvard, Yale and Oxford, serves as secretary of state in Kansas and has a history with the president.

After his election, Mr Trump considered hiring Mr Kobach for the US Department of Homeland Security.

On a chilly day in November 2016, I watched him walk across the driveway at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, to present his ideas for a new set of immigration laws.

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On that day, a journalist took a photo of the documents that Mr Kobach was carrying. The papers showed his plan to block refugees from Syria, among other proposals, and civil rights advocates denounced him.

Mr Kobach didn't get the job. According to some media outlets, top Trump aides said he was too radical.

Later, though, Mr Trump named him as vice-chairman of a voter fraud commission.

They never did find proof of widespread election rigging, and the commission was disbanded.

While serving on the commission, though, Mr Kobach spent time at the White House.

One afternoon, I ran into him in front of the West Wing.

I was surprised to see him holding a stack of documents in full view of me and other reporters.

The lesson from Bedminster, New Jersey, and the public outcry he'd faced over his proposals had apparently not stuck with him.

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Image caption Mr Kobach in his office at the Kansas statehouse

He still refused to carry his papers in a discreet manner.

In truth, he's never hidden his views about immigration and voter fraud.

Some people have been appalled by his policies, but others have embraced them.

Yet his candour about his hardline views on immigration and voter fraud has now paid off, winning him the primary.

Some say he's considering a presidential run in the future. In the meantime, he's trying - with the support of the Republican Party - to become the next governor of Kansas.

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