While Presidential gamesmanship is all the rage, with even Kansas trying to move its primaries earlier to get a bite of that apple, major moves are under way lower down on the ballot.
Perhaps most significantly for Scienceblogs readers, Bill Wagnon, current chairman of the Kansas Board of Education and the representative for most of the Lawrence area, has announced that he will not be running again. A successor to this moderate seat shouldn’t be hard to find in the Lawrence area, but we need to start early. Moderates Carol Rupe and Sue Gamble will also be up for re-election if they choose to run, and I think all three moderates would have a good chance of holding their seats, assuming they aren’t caught napping. Conservative Kangaroo Kourt members Steve Abrams and Kathy Martin will also be ending their terms. I can’t help but think that Martin is a good opportunity for a pick-up, assuming someone jumps into the race early enough. Steve Abrams will be tougher to unseat, but his record of wasteful spending when he was chairman will work against him.
While Dennis Moore’s easy re-election moves the Kansas 3rd into safe territory, Rep. Boyda’s seat is now a top target:
When newly elected National Republican Campaign Committee chief Rep. Tom Cole talks about specific seats he wants to take back in 2008, he repeatedly mentions Kansas’s 2nd district.
The article mentions pantysniffer Phill Kline, outgoing and disgraced GOP chair Tim Shallenburger, former state House Speaker and sometime gubernatorial candidate Doug Mays, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, Treasurer Lynn Jenkins and Jim Ryun as potential candidates. Kline doesn’t currently live in the district, but given that he just moved from the district to establish residency for his current gig as Johnson County DA, carpetbagging wouldn’t be a stretch for him.
More analysis on those candidates below the fold.
Thornburgh has been happily ensconced in his position for a long time, and may be content to ride out his time as Secretary of State. He’s generally well-regarded – I didn’t see any reason for people not to re-elect him, nor did I have any comments at all about Lynn Jenkins. Both would have to establish themselves over the next couple years in order to beat an incumbent, even a Democrat.
The 2nd District has had a Democratic representative before, and Nancy Boyda has made it clear that she’s got her eyes on constituent services. That means voters will know who she is and what she’s done for the community. The article suggests that Republicans see an opportunity in her vote for stem cell research funding, but polls show Kansans pretty supportive of stem cell research. I suspect that that issue will only become a stronger wedge within Republicans over time, and I hope the Republicans do try to use that issue. It’ll do more damage to them than her.
Doug Mays showed his interest in higher office, and also the prudence not to tangle with Governor Sebelius. However, his message never really caught on and he wasn’t raising funds the way he knew he’d have to for a statewide campaign. He represented Topeka for a long time, and people know his name. That should help him, but it also means there will be lots of skeletons people can drag out of his closet.
Jim Ryun will only make himself look pathetic by running again. I encourage him to try it.
Tim Shallenburger would be a fool to run. His “leadership” divided the Republican party and created the conditions that let Phill Kline, Jim Ryun and Jim Barnett lose in statewide races, and which cost the GOP seats in the state House and the Board of Ed. If he couldn’t unify Republicans when he ran for statewide office in 2002, and couldn’t unify the party behind its candidates in ’06, why would he think he could do it in ’08? I hope he runs.
Phill Kline. If Phill Kline runs, it will be the dirtiest race imaginable. Kline doesn’t like to run on his own record, which is so narrow and partisan that it turns off even Republicans. He is a tough enough campaigner that he can overcome that deficit. His intrusive style of governance didn’t play well as Attorney General, in part because people felt like that position shouldn’t be making the law, just enforcing it. His 2002 race against Dennis Moore indicates his clear interest in a seat in Congress, and it’s possible that voters will have washed the bad taste of his re-election campaign out of their memories by the next election, or that they will be more receptive to the idea of a Congressman interested only in abortion than they were to an Attorney General with a one track mind.
The House leadership obviously wants Boyda to stay in office. They’ve given her plum committee assignments and a chance to take the lead on a bill stripping pensions from congresscritters convicted of felonies. Her spot on the Ag. committee will let her help rural voters in lots of ways, and her position on Armed Services will give her both a platform to speak out for the concerns of Kansans and a chance to make a real difference in Iraq policy.
If she sticks to what got her elected, I think she can beat any of these challengers. Phill Kline is probably the biggest threat, but she has always emphasized that politics shouldn’t be about wedge issues like abortion. That message got her elected, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t get her re-elected. Rural areas and farm economies have been ignored while Congress fought culture wars. By focusing attention on kitchen table issues, she can improve lives in the district, and that’ll be a tough record for anyone to attack.