After a break in the primary season in July, (only three states voted) we return this week with Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Tennessee holding their primaries.
Let's take a look at the defining races in Kansas coming up.
In 2002, Kathleen Sebelius won her election to become Governor by exploiting the divisions between moderate and conservative Republicans. In 2009, when she became Health and Human Services Secretary, Governor Mark Parkinson became Governor and promised not to seek election. Republican Senator Sam Brownback is running and it should be a blowout against little known Joan Heffington. Democrats will run state Senator Tom Holland. Holland has $103,000 dollars on hand and Brownback has 1.2 million in the bank. Unless Brownback commits major gaffes, this is almost a sure Republican takeover in November. Rating: Likely Republican.
Senator Brownback's retirement created an open seat. Congressman Jerry Moran, who represents the "Big First" or the western area of the state is running, as is Congressman Todd Tiahrt, who represents the Wichita area. Both are trying to out-conservative each other. As talked about before, there is a huge division in the Kansas Republican Party between moderates and conservatives. Both are big spenders; Tiahrt is generally considered slightly more conservative due to his focus on some social issues. Democrats have State Senator David Haley, Lisa Johnston, and Charles Schollenberger. All are unknowns. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will earn the right to lose the whoever wins the Republican primary. Moran should win this race.
Rating: Safe Republican.
Kansas's 1st congressional district:
The retirement of Jerry Moran opens up the Big First, which represents 69 counties in rural Western Kansas. State Senator Jim Barnett and Tim Huelskamp, Sue Boldra, Marck Cobb, Tracy Mann, and Rob Wasinger are the Republicans. In the latest poll, Huelskamp, Mann, and Barnett were all tied with 24% of the vote. Huelskamp is favored by the more conservative Republicans who align themselves with the Tea Party. Mann and Barnett split moderates, which makes me think Huelskamp has a chance to slip through. Barnett leads with voters who have already voted. Democrats have nominated former Salina Mayor Alan Jilka.
Rating: Safe Republican.
Kansas's 2nd congressional district:
Incumbent Republican Lynn Jenkins was lucky when she defeated Nancy Boyda in a Democratic year in 2008. This year, State Senator Dennis Pyle is trying to oust her for not being conservative enough. (here's the moderate vs conservative Republican party divisions again!) Watch to see the margin Jenkins has on Tuesday; I think she will win pretty easily. Democrats have nominated Sean Travis, who is known for his unique ways of running a campaign. Jenkins should win easily, though.
Rating: Safe Republican
Kansas's 3rd Congressional District:
Incumbent Democrat Dennis Moore is leaving this year, and handing the reigns off to wife Stephanie Moore. This tossup seat in the Kansas City area gave Obama 51% of the vote in 2008. Republican State Representative Kevin Yoder is the favorite. Yoder is extremely well financed, and his slogan is "I'm a Yoder voter" In a year where Republicans seem to have the advantage, this race is high on a turnover list.
Rating: Leans Republican
Kansas's 4th congressional district
Kansas Democrats scored a major candidate recruitment victory here this year when State Representative Raj Goyle jumped into the race. Goyle has had amazing fundraising power, raising $1.25 million dollars. Conservative businessman Mike Pompeo has long led the race, but moderate State Senator Jean Schodorf has recently surged into second place. Schodorf gets pro-choice, anti tea-party, and less wealthy voters, according to SurveyUSA, who has been polling this district from time to time. This district, which is in the Wichita area, is strongly Republican, but Goyle certainly will have the resources to compete.
Rating: Likely Republican