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Democrats add Kansas Rep. Watkins’ seat to list of targets

January 16, 2020 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An arm of the national Democratic Party has added Republican Rep. Steve Watkins’ seat in Kansas to its list of targeted congressional races this year.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Thursday in a memo that the 2nd District of eastern Kansas “presents an opportunity.” The group’s announcement came less than two weeks after Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla launched her campaign for the seat as a Democrat.

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Watkins is an ex-Army officer and military contractor who won the seat by less 1 percentage point in November 2018 after emerging from a crowded GOP primary with less than 27% of the vote. Since December, local authorities have been investigating whether he broke state election laws by listing a UPS Inc. store as his residence on a past voter registration form.

De La Isla said she’s honored by the support she’s received.

Watkins faces a primary challenge from State Treasurer Jake LaTurner, who said Thursday that the DCCC’s announcement shows that with Watkins, the seat is “in jeopardy of Democratic takeover.”

Watkins spokesman Bryan Piligra replied: “The only thing putting this seat in jeopardy is an entirely ego-driven political climber forcing an expensive primary on un-wanting voters.”

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