A new campaign commercial for Gov. Jeff Colyer is taking an unusual approach in the race for the Republican nomination for Kansas governor.
The ad from Colyer attempts to frame the race as a two-way contest between him and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, with others like Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Sen. Jim Barnett as spoilers.
“A vote for any of these candidates is essentially a vote for Kris Kobach, increasing his chance of victory,” says a narrator in the ad.
Washburn University Political Scientist Bob Beatty said he can’t remember this type of argument being made in a Kansas campaign ad.
“It’s very unusual,” Beatty said.
Beatty said it can be a difficult idea to convey in a political ad. He suspects the unconventional approach may be prompted by a crowded race for the Republican nomination.
“What is also unusual is to have four viable, strong candidates in a Kansas gubernatorial primary,” Beatty said.
Beatty said the crowded field could split the vote and leave the winner taking a victory without garnering a majority of the ballots.
Selzer’s campaign said recent polling may have prompted the new strategy.
"We understand why Jeff Colyer is releasing this ad,” said Selzer campaign spokeswoman Lindsay Preisinger. “He knows that Selzer is rising significantly in the polls.”
Barnett calls the strategy playing games.
“The Barnett/Hansen ticket is the alternative in the Republican Party,” Barnett said.
A recent internal poll released by Kobach showed his campaign topping Colyer, but the two were the front runners. Barnett and Selzer combined capturing around 20 percent of the vote.
Colyer’s campaign has pointed to a different poll showing in a potential general election matchup, Colyer could outperform Kobach.
Other polls earlier in the election showed Colyer and Kobach in a tight race.