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Big First candidates jump right in to general election

8/5/2010

By KALEY CONNER

By KALEY CONNER

kconner@dailynews.net

With the primary election less than 24 hours behind them, the two candidates vying to represent Kansas' Big First district in Congress are wasting no time in launching general election campaigns.

Democrat Alan Jilka, Salina, stopped briefly in Hays Wednesday morning for a rally at the Ellis County Courthouse. A small but vocal crowd gathered to show its support.

"Kansas values is life, is agriculture, is families and small businesses, working together to meet challenges. It's protecting seniors, veterans and working people," Jilka said. "We face tremendous challenges as a nation, and the answers to many of those can be found right here in the Big First."

Meanwhile, Republican Tim Huelskamp, a longtime Kansas senator who lives in Fowler, was in Topeka Wednesday. The four Republican nominees for Kansas congressional districts planned a "Nancy Pelosi Retirement Kickoff" press conference.

Huelskamp emerged victorious from Tuesday's crowded primary election, leading the other five candidates with about 35 percent of the vote.

"This was a hard-fought race, and I had some very worthy opponents," Huelskamp said in a press release. "My focus going forward is going to be advancing the conservative principles that I've campaigned on."

Huelskamp and Jilka, who has served three terms as Salina mayor, are vying for the seat currently filled by Republican Jerry Moran, who is running for U.S. Senate.

"Tim Huelskamp's a nice man, but we need more than a nice guy in office right now," said Jilka spokesperson Shawn Colvin in beginning the rally. "He likes to tout his record. But a 13 percent approval voting record in education, that's not leadership, and we can do better than that."

Jilka said he is confident he is the best person for the job, and would have felt that way regardless of who he faces in the general election.

"I think it's my job to make the case that the best candidate in the election this time happens to be a Democrat," Jilka said. "The vast majority of people who study the records and positions of the two candidates will come to that conclusion."