Gov. Jeff Colyer of Kansas on Tuesday conceded defeat in the Republican primary race, paving the way for Secretary of State Kris Kobach to seize the party’s gubernatorial nomination a week after voters went to the polls.
The announcement is a victory for President Trump, who endorsed Mr. Kobach in the final days of the race, angering some members of the Kansas GOP establishment who believed Mr. Colyer was the best person for the job.
“Thank you Governor Colyer for your gracious call this evening offering your endorsement to #TeamKobach for Kansas Governor,” Mr. Kobach said on Twitter. “I look forward to working with Governor Colyer and all Republicans to keep Kansas red in November!”
Mr. Kobach is set to face Democrat Laura Kelly in the general election.
Mr. Kobach’s lead in the race was less than 200 votes out of more than 311,000 cast and Mr. Colyer had held out hope that he could make up the ground through provisional and mail-in ballots.
But that changed Tuesday when he said he would not challenge the results and would back Mr. Kobach, who served as co-chair of Mr. Trump’s disbanded voter fraud commission and is seen as one of the architects behind the president’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
Mr. Colyer, the former lieutenant governor, was appointed to the job after Gov. Sam Brownback resigned to become America’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
The chair of the Republican Governors Association thanked Mr. Colyer for his service and congratulated Mr. Kobach on his “hard-fought victory.”
“Kobach is the best candidate to keep Kansas moving forward, and as governor, will use conservative policies to deliver results,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. “The RGA congratulates Kris Kobach on his victory and look forward to working with him to make him the next governor of Kansas.”