Moran has played role in GOP shift
In the 1988 race for the Kansas Senate, challenger Jerry Moran, who was raised in Plainville, ousted 16-year Hays Democratic incumbent Joe Norvell by only 141 votes. It was an unfavorable climate for an incumbent; the district had banks failing and falling oil prices.
Eight years later, Moran's decision to run for national office was a seminal event that affected party affiliation, said Henry Schwaller IV, a longtime observer of Ellis County politics and a Democratic member of the Hays City Commission.
"The tipping point was 1996, when (Moran) decided to run for Congress," Schwaller said. "A lot of Democrats switched party affiliation in the primary (to vote for him). Many of them didn't bother to switch back."
In that 1996 election, Moran won with 76 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 1998 with 81 percent of votes cast and ran unopposed in 2000. Moran served in the House until 2010, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he is serving his first term.
"I think one of the biggest things, you look back at least the last 16 years you'll see the Republicans have had a big, strong candidate in Jerry Moran," said Anthony Glassman, chairman of the Ellis County Democratic party. "That has caused a lot of registration for the Republican Party."
* RANDY GONZALES, HDN