KS-03: A competitive primary, contrary to 'The Hill' and 'Politico'

In summary: There is no clear front-runner, in the Republican race for 3rd District US Congress.

“BREAKING,” Steve Kraske wrote on April 22, 2010.  Kraske was reporting that former State Senator Nick Jordan, the 2008 Republican nominee, had dropped out of the 2010 race.  This wasn’t big news to many conservatives.  I wrote at Red County on January 17:  “Why It’s A Good Bet That Nick Jordan Drops Out Of The Third District Congressional Race.”

Kraske is the main political reporter for The Kansas City Star, and KCUR-NPR gives him a daily taxpayer-funded, hour-long program called “Up to Date.” I don’t know much about Kraske, and so I am not going to question his motives, but I’ve found his reporting to be very unhelpful.  He misses one opportunity after another to provide a service to the community in his reporting, but he chooses instead to put energy into giving praise and attention to members of the liberal political establishment.

Until Nick Jordan dropped out of the race, Kraske had pretended as if it were a two-man race between Jordan and Overland Park State Representative Kevin Yoder.  And Kraske over-emphasized fundraising numbers. Look at some of Kraske’s articles:

On April 22, when Nick Jordan dropped out, the national media joined in their own unhelpful, inaccurate reports.

  • Aaron Blake at The Hill: Republicans avoid primary in Rep. Moore’s district. Blake wrote, “Jordan’s exit leaves state Rep. Kevin Yoder as the only GOP candidate in the race who is raising big money. Yoder will be the favorite the win the GOP nomination in August.”  Today, there is no “favorite,” and “big money” isn’t really the case because a half-million dollars doesn’t go very far in a race within the Kansas City media market.
  • Shira Toeplitz at CQ Politics wrote, “Republicans have always attempted to target Moore for defeat since he was elected to Congress in 1998, but without much success despite the conservative lean of the district.”  Conservative lean?  This district voted for Obama in 2008!  What articles like this don’t take into account are the cultural-political divides within the district.  The 3rd District is essentially two and a half counties, and all three counties are very different.  To be very general:  there are many socially-conservative, fiscally-moderate-to-liberal Democrats in Wyandotte County; there are many socially-moderate-to-liberal, fiscally-conservative Republicans in Johnson County; and Douglas County includes Lawrence, with its numerous students and professors.
  • Politico.com wrote:  “Republican Nick Jordan announced Thursday that he is exiting the race for Kansas’s open 3rd District, a move that positions Kevin Yoder as the favorite to win the GOP nod in the August 3 primary.”
  • The Lawrence Journal-World quoted “pundits”:  “Several other GOP candidates, including former state Rep. Patricia Lightner of Olathe, were in the race before Dennis Moore announced his retirement late last year, but pundits regarded Yoder, chairman of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee, and Jordan as the GOP front-runners.”

Today, there is no front-runner in the Republican primary in the Kansas 3rd District.  Actually, there has never been a front-runner for the primary race.  Here are some related thoughts:

  • First, some optimism for everybody:  this is a great group of candidates in the Republican primary.  No matter the winner, I will be an enthusiastic supporter and I’ll gladly be putting a bumper sticker on my car.  Relatedly, I’m confident that no matter the Republican nominee, he or she WILL beat Democrat Stephene Moore.
  • There’s a 50-50 chance that a “celebrity candidate” will be entering the race.  I’ll go ahead and say that I do not think this person will decide to run.  I’ll leave the person unnamed, for now.  I hope the person doesn’t enter, for several reasons.  It’s known that the person is relatively conservative and pro-life, but virtually nothing else is known, causing concern that the person will not be an effective fighter for freedom in Washington.  The 3rd District needs more than a “nice, pro-life Congressman” who then gets beaten up and eaten up by the culture of Washington.
  • Kevin Yoder does have a formidable advantage in fundraising, and this is certainly significant.  But I disagree with those who find it highly significant.  I’m guessing Yoder today has around $300,000 to $400,000 on hand, and that money will be spent fast.
  • Right now, it’s fair to say that there are two major candidates:  Kevin Yoder and Patricia Lightner.  The “celebrity candidate” would make a third major candidate, if the person decides to enter.
  • Kevin Yoder will need to run a near-perfect campaign to win the primary election.  He has a “hard floor” of perhaps 20-30%, but he will have to work very hard for every vote beyond 40%.  Republicans in this district are conservative.  Yoder is not liberal, but he is the moderate candidate, and he will not be able to simply walk away with the nomination.
  • To be fair, ANY candidate will need to run a near-perfect campaign to win the primary election.
  • I’m expecting that the other candidates will, in total, receive about 10% of the Republican primary vote.
  • To repeat, I do think the eventual Republican will end up defeating Stephene Moore.  She’s no “moderate” Democrat.  The Moores are hard-left Democrats, and while it took years for voters to learn this, there’s no doubt about it, now.


Connect with Benjamin Hodge at FacebookTwitterLinkedInThe Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas.  He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011.  His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRAKansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).


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