Shares in Kris Kobachs political future buy, sell, or hold?
Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, built a national profile on immigration issues. In court, in print, and on television, Kobach often serves as the face of Republican support for tougher policies toward illegal immigration.
So this week, as Washington moved toward compromise on the contentious issue, the political world in Kansas and elsewhere reassessed Kobach valuations and his long-rumored aspirations for higher office.
His political stock slumped last year when GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romneys campaign, worried about losing Latino support, distanced itself from the Kansans tough rhetoric against immigration reform. Last summer, a muddled Supreme Court ruling on a Kobach-inspired immigration law was also seen as a setback.
Then, this week, four Republican senators citing their partys November losses said they would join with four Democrats to support a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
The developments suggest Kobachs influence on his partys immigration position, and his national political visibility, are slipping, some observers said.
He is marginalized on this issue, said Joe Aistrup, a political science professor at Kansas State University. And hell continue to be marginalized on a national basis.
In mid-January, well-known anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist said Kobachs immigration stance was not constructive for the country, (and) its not constructive for the modern Republican Party.
But some conservative Republicans and analysts argue the opposite. The GOPs perceived repositioning on immigration reform will anger millions of Americans, they predict, making Kobachs voice even more important in the months ahead.
Many special interests on both the left and the right would be very happy to see Kris put in a corner, shut up, marginalized, said nationally syndicated conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. But he has a constituency. ... Most people are where Kris is.
Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group generally opposed to liberalized immigration policy, agreed. He blamed the GOP immigration split on an old disagreement between corporate conservatives who see immigrants as a cheap labor source, and grassroots conservatives who say illegal immigrants are flouting the law.
Republican politicians are going to be flocking to Kris Kobachs door the minute they have to start attending town hall meetings to talk about a big amnesty bill, Stein said.
Those views reflect the position of some in the conservative media, who have spent the week pushing back against the immigration compromise offered by the so-called Senate Gang of Eight. That group includes Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Durbin of Illinois and former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
While some conservative talk-show hosts and TV anchors have warily embraced the discussion Sean Hannity, for example other right-leaning writers and columnists have denounced the Gang of Eight proposal as unacceptable amnesty.
Kobach concurs. Further, he insists his influence in the immigration debate is undiminished.