Donald Trump’s pick for the governor of Kansas, an immigration hardliner and an early supporter of the president, was locked in a race for the party’s nomination, as the contest came down to the wire.
Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, was trying to defeat the current Republican incumbent, Jeff Colyer, for a showdown with the Democratic candidate in November.
With more than 84 per cent of votes counted in the early hours of Wednesday, Mr Kobach led 40.8 to 40.6. Whoever emerges victorious will face off against Laura Kelly, who comfortably won the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
While Mr Kobach is a favorite of Mr Trump’s, the Associated Press said that some Republicans worry his aggressive personality would make it harder to appeal to a broader electorate and give Democrats and opening in a red state.
Mr Colyer raised more in campaign contributions than Mr Kobach, received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, brandished his anti-abortion credentials and had the backing of Kansas political legend Bob Dole.
But then, with less than 24 hours before polls opened, Mr Trump endorsed Mr Kobach. It was not a huge surprise since the two men had long been close and he served as vice chairman of a now-disbanded presidential commission on election fraud.
Mr Kobach told reporters before polls closed that the endorsement “came just in time” and that he expected it to help him, as it has helped other candidates in other races. Mr Trump's tweet backing Georgia Republican governor hopeful Brian Kemp vaulted him to an easy primary runoff win two weeks ago. Mr Trump also has recently given a boost to GOP primary candidates in Florida, South Carolina and Alabama.
Voters in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington state joined those in Ohio in Tuesday's voting.
In Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer won the Democratic nomination for Michigan governor, besting two competitors to advance to the November race to succeed term-limited Republican Rick Snyder.
Also in Michigan, Detroit-area businessman and Iraq War veteran John James won the Republican nomination to run against Democratic sector Debbie Stabenow.
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