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Republicans and White House at Odds Over Kansas Senate Race

Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State,  has caused consternation among some Republicans who worry that he could cost them a Senate seat.

Mr. Trump has expressed...

Mr. Trump has expressed frustration that he endorsed Mr. Kobach’s bid for governor two years ago only to watch him lose, and many congressional Republicans believed the president would try to halt Mr. Kobach’s candidacy this year.

But party officials became gravely alarmed Thursday after getting word that the president was not inclined to support Mr. Marshall.

According to two people familiar with the conversation, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas used an Air Force One flight with the president on Wednesday to steer Mr. Trump away from supporting Mr. Marshall. Mr. Cruz told Mr. Trump that Mr. Marshall had supported former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, now a vocal Trump critic, in the 2016 primary. Mr. Cruz, who himself ran against Mr. Trump, has sought to lift some anti-establishment candidates and his top political adviser is working for another candidate in the race.

Representatives for Mr. Cruz declined to comment.

The push and pull between Mr. McConnell and Mr. Cruz reflects the degree to which Mr. Trump is increasingly being used by competing G.O.P. factions, who recognize that he’s a useful ally in intraparty fights and that the way to appeal to him is to play to his insecurities.

Establishment-aligned Republicans, however, are especially nervous about how the race is shaping up, and about Mr. Trump’s role in it.

“I don’t understand it,” Robert Blizzard, a Republican strategist and a pollster for Mr. Marshall, said, asked about Mr. Trump’s perch on the sidelines so far. “Given how tight things look in terms of holding the majority, why we wouldn’t be all in on trying to make sure we have a chance of winning, holding this Kansas Senate seat. It’s concerning for sure.”

David Kensinger, a veteran Kansas Republican strategist, noted that Mr. Trump’s 2018 endorsement of Mr. Kobach had not been forgotten.

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