Defying expectations, top Kansas House Republican Blaine Finch passes on attorney general run

Andrew Bahl
Topeka Capital-Journal
House Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, announced Monday he would not run for attorney general, despite speculation he would do so.

House Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch said Monday he will pass on running for attorney general, setting the stage for two major candidates — including controversial former Secretary of State Kris Kobach — to duke it out for the nomination.

In a statement, Finch, who has long been rumored as a top A.G. candidate, said he didn't want to run and give up his Ottawa law practice — something he said would be a deal-breaker.

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"My priority has always been to do  what’s right for my family and my neighbors, and that will continue to be my focus," Finch said in a statement. "While there may be a time for me to serve our state on a broader level, now is not that time."

Kobach and Sen. Kellie Warren, R-Leawood, have been increasing their campaign presence throughout the state, with Kobach in particular paying a visit to a half dozen county Republican party events in recent weeks. 

Warren's entrance into the race created an option for Republicans disillusioned with Kobach's less-than-stellar recent track record in statewide races. Some, including the powerful Kansas Chamber, have already distanced themselves from Kobach's candidacy over fears that he would make the race competitive for Democrats.

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Finch didn't endorse either candidate currently in the race but did take a thinly veiled shot at Kobach in his statement, saying "we must have a competent attorney enter this race. One who truly understands the law and who knows how to win in the courtroom."

On the Democrat side, Kansas City, Mo., lawyer Kristie Welder has publicly said she is considering a run. Kobach's presence in the discussion has encouraged liberals, giving them a potential fundraising boost as they attempt to win an office they haven't held in over a decade.