U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder won the backing of the president of the United States, but the Republican kept looking over his shoulder at the six-candidate Democratic primary for a sense of what kind of general election awaits him in November.
A Wichita man named Ron Estes turned out to be little more than political fodder for U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, also of Wichita.
And U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall spent a fortune to outrun a GOP primary opponent who raised virtually nothing.
Based on incomplete returns, Yoder, Estes and Marshall were expected to prevail by landslide margins in Republican primary elections Tuesday night in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th congressional districts of Kansas. Real drama on the Republican side of the ledger was in the 2nd District, because of the retirement of U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins and involvement of seven GOP candidates angling to replace her. It turned into a showdown between newcomer Steve Watkins, of Topeka, and Sen. Caryn Tyson, of Parker.
In the 3rd District territory of Wyandotte and Johnson counties, voters sought to resolve for Yoder which candidate he must defeat in November to remain in Washington, D.C. With half of precincts counted, Brent Welder, endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, had 37 percent of the Democratic vote against rival Sharice Davids at 35 percent. Both are from Kansas City, Kan.
Welder and Davids agreed to join the four other Democrats in the race at a rally Wednesday to dedicate themselves to ousting Yoder, who was held the seat since 2011. It could be a compelling race because Hillary Clinton won the district by 1 percent in the 2016 presidential election and college-educated voters have made the district an increasingly tempting target for Democrats.
“Democrats have waged a civil, issues-oriented campaign as both team members and friendly rivals, with the common goal of replacing Yoder,” said Andy Sandler, the Democratic Party’s chairman in the 3rd District. “Kevin Yoder’s disappointing tenure in Washington has left him more vulnerable than ever.”
Marshall, who drove out incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp in the 2016 Republican primary, took 80 percent of the vote against GOP challenger Nick Reinecker, of Inman. Marshall, of Great Bend, will confront Alan LaPolice, a Clyde farmer and the lone Democratic candidate.
Estes took 80 percent of the primary vote to earn the right to compete in November against James Thompson, the Andover candidate who lost a 2017 special election to Estes and has been endorsed by Sanders in 2018.