November ballot positions set; Moran defeats Tiahrt
Primary ballots across Kansas are all but counted, and voters gave a congressman from the state's Big 1st District a big first boost toward becoming the state's next U.S. Senator.
Jerry Moran of Hays, who has represented Kansas’ sprawling, western 1st District since 1997, defeated fellow Congressman Todd Tiahrt to win the GOP nomination for U.S. senator.
With all 3,316 precincts statewide reporting, Moran had captured 160,620 votes, or 50 percent of the ballots cast. Tiahrt, of Goddard, had received 144,221 votes, or 45 percent. Two lesser-known candidates, Tom Little and Bob Londerholm, combined to just over 18,000 votes.
Tiahrt, who continued to lag in statewide polls going into Tuesday, made a late charge with the backing of tea party conservatives and the endorsements of such conservative luminaries as Sarah Palin Karl Rove and James Dobson. Moran had his own conservative backers, too, including Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, also known as “Senator Tea Party.”
Moran now is the heir apparent to the Senate seat that is being vacated by Sam Brownback, who won the GOP nomination for governor on Tuesday. Kansas voters haven't delivered an Election Day victory to a Democrat since the 1930s, and Moran will look to keep that streak intact.
Early Wednesday morning, Moran acknowledged the rough-and-tumble campaign. "Primaries within the family are a very difficult thing," he said.
Tiahrt, for his part, vowed to back Moran in November. "I do not want a Democrat senator from the state of Kansas."
That Democrat would be Lisa Johnston, a Baker University administrator from Overland Park, who won a five-way primary with 25,344 votes (31 percent). She easily outdistanced her closest challenger, Charles Schollenberger, who received 19,170 votes (24 percent.)
Closer to home, voters in both major parties were selecting their nominees for Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District.
Freshman incumbent Lynn Jenkins of Topeka defeated State Sen. Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha, 40,951 (57 percent) to 30,736 (43 percent) to win GOP renomination. Jenkins will get to defend her record in the Nov. 2 general election against Democrat Cheryl Hudspeth, a political newcomer from Girard. Hudspeth survived a three-person primary with 9,945 votes (44 percent) over Thomas Koch, 8,022 votes (36 percent) and Sean Tevis, 4,536 votes (20 percent),
Jenkins’ first order of business will be to host a news conference today with the other Kansas GOP congressional winners. The title of the event is the “Nancy Pelosi Retirement Kickoff,” aimed at the current Democratic U.S. House speaker.
“Voters are fed up with the trillions in new spending and no clear plan to pay for it,” Jenkins said.
Hudspeth described the event as “just hype.” Hudspeth said she hoped the campaign would focus on the economy and federal tax policy and spending, and how that will affect schools, roads and social services.
Other Republican races
Brownback easily won the GOP nomination for governor, defeating Joan Heffington of Derby. Brownback received 259,936 votes, 82 percent of ballots cast. He'll face Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
In the attorney general’s race, Derek Schmidt of Independence was defeated Ralph DeZago of Herington, 205,590 (76 percent) to 63,578 (24 percent). Schmidt will face incumbent Steve Six of Lawrence, who was unchallenged Tuesday, in November.
Schmidt declared victory about 10:30 p.m. and said he looked forward to running against Six, who was appointed to the post by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius after Paul Morrison resigned in a sex scandal.
"At the end of this fall campaign, for the first time in almost three years, Kansans will have an attorney general of their choice," Schmidt said. "No candidate in this race has ever been elected attorney general. This is a race for an open seat."
For secretary of state, Kris Kobach of Piper held off Elizabeth Ensley of Topeka and J.R. Claeys of Salina. Kobach had 154,057 votes (51 percent) to Ensley’s 82,148 (27 percent) and Claeys’ 67,973 (22 percent).
Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger of Lawrence turned back a primary challenge from David Powell of El Dorado for the GOP nomination. Praeger received 189,011 votes (63 percent) to Powell's 110,464 (37 percent). Praeger is unopposed in the general election.
The Democratic nominee for secretary of state is incumbent Chris Biggs, who defeated State Sen. Jack Steinegar of Kansas City, 48,743 votes (60 percent) to 32,119 (40 percent).
Biggs declared victory about 10:30 p.m.
"I have been honored to serve as Kansas Secretary of State, and I am proud to have been nominated by Kansas Democrats to stand for election in November. I am looking forward to a vigorous discussion of the issues pertinent to the office and working towards victory in the general election," Biggs said.
The general election is three months from now, Nov. 2.