Kobach and Colyer discuss what’s next in GOP primary race for Kansas governor

TOPEKA, Kan. -- It's very unusual that, 24 hours after polls closed, we still don't know who the GOP candidate for Kansas governor will be -- and the wait will likely be much longer.

While the official winner of the GOP primary in the race for governor gets sorted out, both Kris Kobach and Jeff Colyer have both started campaigning for the general election.

“191 votes, what an exciting night it was, what an exciting race,” Kobach said during a news conference Wednesday morning.

Republican primary candidate for Governor Kris Kobach, speaks to supporters just after midnight in a tight race with Jeff Colyer that is too close to call. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)

It was an exciting and exhausting primary night that kept going until 8 a.m. Wednesday when unofficial results were finally released -- and it's still not over.

Although Kobach is the tentative winner by just 191 votes, it could all change when the mail-in and provisional ballots are counted. That's an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 votes.

“The trend usually is that when you count provisional ballots, they tend to go in the same direction as the normal ballots, non-provisional ballots. But in a race this big, the entire state is at issue,” Kobach said.

“Those numbers of ballots that are outstanding clearly can change the course of the outcome here,” Colyer said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “And to be very honest, we are optimistic that those votes will continue to come in on our side.”

Gov. Jeff Colyer speaks during a news conference Aug. 8, 2018, to address the tight race for the GOP nomination for Kansas governor.

Over the last 40 years, the governor’s office has not been won by the sitting party. Although it has been a hard-fought primary battle between the Kansas secretary of state and current governor, they both agree the Republican party needs to come together to break that trend.

“If I do hand the baton to Jeff, I will hand that baton to him with as much momentum as we possibly can, and I will cheer him on as he runs the rest of the race. But we have to begin running right now because our opponents have already started running.”

It could take one to three weeks for the race to be certified and an official winner declared. With just three months until the general election and Democrat Laura Kelly and Independent Greg Orman already securing their spots on the November ballot, Republicans don't have the time to waste.

“We look forward to uniting all Republicans. We are happy to work with Kris and with Wink should they win the primary election. We would be happy to work with them,” Colyer said. “It is important that a Republican governor be elected in November.”

There have been a lot of questions about what's next? Under Kansas statute, there is a period between election and canvassing at the county level, which is where we are right now.

The counting of provisional ballots can begin as early as Aug. 13 or as late as Aug. 21. If the candidates don't like the results after provisional ballots are tallied, they can ask for a recount, which would further delay the official results.

With just three months before the general election, FOX4 asked both Kobach and Colyer about the possibility of a recount.

“If the margin is less than 10 votes or something extraordinarily close, I would expect any person to call for a recount,” Kobach said.

“We are not there yet," Colyer said. "We want to make sure every legitimate vote is counted, and that is what our expectation is over the next couple of weeks.”

Recounts are done on a county level so, as secretary of state, Kobach doesn't actually participate directly in the recount, other than to simply receive the results coming in from the counties.

When FOX4 asked Colyer if he would ask Kobach to recuse himself from that process, Colyer had no comment and said he's not there yet.

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