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Kansas Republicans deeply divided in primary

Tuesday night’s election proved that the Republican Party in Kansas is deeply divided. Kansas is a strong Republican state. Yet this year’s primary elections proved there is a divided and unhappy electorate for individual candidates. Although the incumbents won, as expected, their opponents ran tough campaigns, with few landslide victories.
The race between Pat Roberts and Milton Wolf were being watched by pundits across the country as Wolf was a Tea Party Republican. This was probably the only real ideological battle of the night. Most of the races were focused on the candidates and their records. Ideologically all the Republican races were between conservatives with no real difference. Wolf’s defeat was probably a real bad sign for the Tea Party as Kansas is a hot bed of far-left activism. They probably figured that Kansas was a sure bet. Even though Roberts beat Wolf by a comfortable margin, he had two other opponents, DJ Smith, with 6 percent and Alvin Zahnter, with 5 percent of the vote. Altogether, Roberts won with only 48 percent of the vote.
Roberts now faces Democrat Chad Taylor and Greg Orman, a Johnson County businessman who is running as an independent.
Tim Huelskamp barely won the re-election bid for his party. He beat Alan LaPolice. LaPolice was political unknown and yet was able to draw about 45 percent against Huelskamp, a two-term Republican congressman. For a short time it looked as if Huelskamp might not win. Heulskamp will now face Democrat Jim Sherow in the general election, in November. The Wichita Eagle reported that Sherow now feels more confident in his chances now that LaPolice got so many votes.
As with most of these races, both candidates are conservative. LaPolice tried to paint Huelskamp as a symbol of a dysfunctional Congress and a politician more interested in promoting himself on cable TV than serving the people in his district. Huelskamp also had to deal with ads bought from the Now or Never PAC due to his support of a bill that would eliminate the renewable fuels standard.
Sam Brownback won his primary challenge. But many activist and leaders in his own party are supporting Democratic governor candidate Paul Davis. Brownback’s economic policies have been seen as a disaster by many Kansas Republicans. He has attacked public education and that has turned a lot of Republicans away from supporting him. Polls are showing that Davis is ahead of Brownback so this coming general election may mark the end of his run as governor.
Jennifer Winn, a Haysville businesswoman, got almost 37 percent of the vote, with a grass roots campaign with very little money and little name recognition. Pundits are warning Brownback that he should have done much better.
Most of the Democrats are running as moderates. They seem to cling to the “I’m just like a Republican only a little different” strategy that has never really paid off. The Democrats in Kansas are a pathetic party with little to offer the voters in either issues or vision. The only Democrat that has a chance of winning is Davis. The rest are expected to put up only a token of a campaign. For most of these campaigns the election is really over. Democrats have a hard time when they put up a real challenge and that is not likely to happen this year.

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