Back in March, I went to the Kansas Democratic Party’s Washington Days, and met the candidate for the 1st district, which Jerry Moran won with 79% of the vote. What I wrote at the time was:
The most encouraging person I met was John Doll, running against Jerry Moran in the First District. Doll’s website is a little light on details or a sense of the man, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. …
What I found was a retired government studies teacher and basketball coach and a business owner who is personable, open, honest about his prospects, and proud to be a Democrat. He says his friends were surprised to learn that he was a Democrat, and he asked them “Do you think of me differently now?” Taking that message — that Democrats aren’t hippies, aren’t out to destroy anything, are normal people who want what’s best — through western Kansas will be to the benefit of everyone around. He doesn’t think his odds are great, and his goal is as much to make Mr. Moran talk about the important issues of western Kansas.
Asked about his chances of winning, he told me “Bucknell beat KU last year, so anything’s possible.” His major issues are local matters, agriculture, the Japanese beef embargo, ethanol plants to generate energy, and he’s working hard to cover the 69 counties in the district (out of 105 counties in the state!), and to get the incumbent out there to take on the same issues. Twenty years as a teacher gives him a natural way with people, and I wish him well.
Diane highlights Chris Moon’s bizarre article about Moran’s re-election. It is not news that an incumbent beats an unknown challenger. A Republican winning in a district with a Partisan Voting Index of 20 (signifying that the district was 20 points more Republican than the average district in presidential elections), is hardly news. In 2002 and 2004, no Democrat ran, and Moran was re-elected with 91% of the vote. I’d say a slip from 91% to 79% is quite an avalanche.
John Doll wasn’t running to win, he was running because no one deserves to go unchallenged. He didn’t raise a lot of money, but he made sure that a Democratic voice was heard.