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Ostmeyer's Republican wave overwhelms Schmidt

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Allen Schmidt held out hope for a victory as long as possible, refusing to concede to sitting Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer until a final tally was made.

He made that call this morning, the Republican wave simply too much.

Ostmeyer won re-election to the 40th Senate District by a vote of 21,666 to Schmidt's 11,311.

Schmidt is an Ellis County Democrat, and a sitting senator, but effectively without a district, the result of a federal panel of judges redrawing boundary lines for state legislative districts.

Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, spent Tuesday evening with family and friends in Grinnell and was confident of a victory as the results slowly started showing up on the Kansas Secretary of State's website.

While he rode the wave of Republicanism in the counties of the old 40th District, it was Ellis County ultimately deciding the race.

Schmidt, with 6,285 votes, came out on top in Ellis County, but by a much smaller margin than either candidate expected. Ostmeyer picked up 6,182 votes.

"I'm just plumb tickled to death with that," Ostmeyer said late Tuesday night after Ellis County's results were tallied.

"I needed a big win in Ellis County," Schmidt said.

On Tuesday night, he wasn't about ready to admit defeat.

"I talked to Ralph this morning," he said early today. "Obviously, I conceded."

Results were slow to trickle in, much of it the result of write-in votes across northwest Kansas.

Both Sherman and Decatur counties were the last to report, and Ellis County's votes didn't get reported to the state until several hours after the vote had been tallied.

But the gap simply was too much, and Ostmeyer knew he'd do well in both counties, Republican strongholds.

"I feel real good," Ostmeyer said.

"I knew what I had to do in Ellis County, and I did better than I expected. I feel real satisfied with the way it turned out."

Ostmeyer gave a nod to Schmidt's presence in the race, acknowledging he was the strongest candidate he'd faced.

"To me, Allen was the best candidate that I've run against as a Democrat," Ostmeyer said. "When he decided to run, I knew he was going to run and be good at it."

"I knew coming in this was going to be a very difficult race," Schmidt said, noting 12 of the 13 whole counties had been represented by Ostmeyer for years.

Schmidt said his campaign was hampered at the last minute by a Hays Daily News endorsement for Ostmeyer on Sunday, as well as a same-day endorsement by Kansans for Life.

That group left fliers on windshields of vehicles in church parking lots.

"That stopped any momentum we might have had," he said.