WICHITA, Kan. — At an open-air debate at the Kansas State Fair in September, a raucous crowd roared, cheered and booed with such vigor that the candidates often were forced to pause before they could speak.
The Republican candidate for governor, Kris Kobach, and the independent, Greg Orman, had strong support in the packed bleachers. But the loudest cheers, to my ears, were for the Democrat, State Senator Laura Kelly. She fed off the approval, delivering zingers and carrying her small stature with swagger.
The loudest boos were for Mr. Kobach, the secretary of state, who earlier in the year had been found in contempt of federal court for failing to notify unlawfully suppressed voting registrants of their eligibility. “You’re a criminal!” one man shouted several times. Mr. Kobach paused for a beat and shook his head with a laugh.