Political newcomer wins GOP House nod in crowded field

August 8, 2018
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Annie Kuether D-Topeka, gave State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, a hug at Kelly's watch party in Topeka's Ramada Hotel and Convention Center Tuesday evening, Aug. 7, 2018. Kelly won the Democratic primary for governor Tuesday, Aug. 7, after stressing her Statehouse experience and fending off questions about her voting record. (Thad Allton/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A veteran state lawmaker won the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday but the Republican race was too close to call.

Two Republican U.S. House members won primaries with one of them facing a rematch with a Democratic opponent he beat in a special election last year.

A winner had not yet been declared in the GOP primary for Insurance Commissioner.

Republicans chose a political newcomer for an open congressional seat that has been targeted by Democrats.

The Democratic race for another congressional seat in the Kansas City area that Democrats hope to win in November had not yet been called because of outstanding results in Johnson County

What to know about the election:


A veteran Kansas legislator won the Democratic primary for governor after stressing her Statehouse experience and fending off questions about her voting record.

State Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka defeated former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty and two other candidates Tuesday.

The 68-year-old Kelly has served 14 years in the Senate and is the top Democrat on the budget committee. She stressed those credentials in running and suggested that she was best able to fix problems created by Republican policies.

In the Republican primary, Gov. Jeff Colyer was locked in a tight race with Kris Kobach, the conservative agitator for strict immigration and voter ID laws who has advised President Donald Trump and was endorsed by him.


Democrats are targeting Yoder because Hillary Clinton narrowly carried his 3rd Congressional District in the 2016 presidential election and Yoder won a closer-than-expected race against a relatively unknown Democrat.

Six Democrats were on the ballot, showcasing the debate within the party over how far left its candidates should go to tap the energy of liberal activists and opponents of President Donald Trump.

Sanders, the patriarch of the democratic socialist movement, and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the movement’s rising star, campaigned for Brent Welder, a Kansas City, Kansas, labor attorney.

But Sharice Davids, another Kansas City, Kansas, attorney, attracted considerable attention as both a Native American and gay candidate with strong liberal credentials. And other Democrats were rallying behind Tom Niermann, a Prairie Village teacher, seen as more of a centrist.

A winner had not been declared by early Wednesday.


In the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas, five-term Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins did not seek re-election, setting up both a seven-candidate scramble for the GOP nomination and an opportunity for Democrats to pick up an otherwise out-of-reach seat. Their nominee is former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, who narrowly lost the 2014 governor’s race.

The Republican field includes four state legislators and an ex-Kansas House speaker. But they weren’t as visible in the final weeks as Army veteran and political newcomer Steve Watkins, who won the race with help from television ads launched by a political action committee formed by his father.


In the 4th District in the Wichita area, civil rights attorney James Thompson defeated businesswoman Laura Lombard in the Democratic primary for the right to challenge Republican Rep. Ron Estes. Estes won a closer-than-expected special election in April 2017 against Thompson, and he won his Tuesday primary against a political novice who shares his name.

In the 1st District of western and central Kansas, freshman Rep. Roger Marshall defeated an unknown GOP primary challenger.


Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is running for governor, and five GOP candidates were running to replace him. Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab won the contest over House Elections Committee Chairman Keith Esau and Craig McCullah, a former Kobach deputy.

Schwab suffered a tragedy in his family that received national attention when his son was killed in 2016 on a waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas. Schwab will face Democrat Brian McClendon, a former Google and Uber executive from Lawrence.


Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer also is running for governor, and Assistant Commissioner Clark Shultz is hoping to replace him. But Shultz faces state Sen. Vicki Schmidt, of Topeka, chairwoman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, in the GOP primary. A winner had not been declared by early Wednesday.

The winner will face Democrat Nathaniel McLaughlin, a retired health industry executive from Kansas City, Kansas.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .


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