2012 elections preview: Kansas voters to select winners in congressional, legislative primaries

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August 6, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The primary season continues with elections in Kansas tomorrow.

Here's what to watch for in Kansas, where polling places will be open from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM Central Time .[1]

Contested Primaries in Kansas -- August 7, 2012
U.S. House
(4 seats)
State Legislature
(165 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 2 (50%) 16 (9.70%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 0 (0%) 83 (50.30%)


United States House of Representatives elections in Kansas, 2012

Heading into the election, the Republican Party holds all four of the Congressional seats from Kansas.

Kansas has a total of 4 seats on the ballot in 2012. A total of 9 candidates have filed to run, made up of 5 Democratic challengers, 0 Republican challengers, and 4 incumbents. Including states with primaries tomorrow, a total of 353 U.S. House seats have held primaries. Thus far, 57.79% of possible primaries have been contested. Kansas's contested figure of 25% (2 out of 8 possible party primaries) is less competitive than the national average.

All four of Kansas' incumbents are running unopposed in their primaries tomorrow. Tim Huelskamp is running unopposed for re-election in both the Republican primary and the general election, as no Republican or Democratic candidates filed to run against him in the 1st district. Incumbent Kevin Yoder is running unopposed in the 3rd district, but will face competition from Libertarian candidate Joel Balam in the general election. Incumbent Lynn Jenkins is running unopposed in the 2nd district Republican primary and Mike Pompeo is running unopposed in the Republican primary in the 4th district.

There are no contested Republican primaries, because all four incumbents are running on the Republican ticket unopposed.

The only two Democratic primaries that are contested are also the only the districts with any Democratic candidates running. In the 2nd district, candidates Scott Barnhart, Tobias Schlingensiepen, and Robert V. Eye are running for the nomination. The winner will face incumbent Lynn Jenkins (R) and Libertarian candidate Dennis Hawver in the general election. Candidates Esau A. Freeman and Robert Leon Tillman are running against each other for the nomination in the 4th district, and the winner will face incumbent Mike Pompeo (R) and Libertarian candidate Thomas Jefferson in the general election.

Thomas Jefferson, formerly known as Jack Talbert, is a Libertarian candidate who officially changed his name on July 23, 2012 as part of what he refers to as the Thomas Jefferson Project.[2][3][4]

Members of the U.S. House from Kansas -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 0 0
     Republican Party 4 4
Total 4 4

State legislature

Kansas State Senate elections, 2012 and Kansas House of Representatives elections, 2012

There are 165 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 40 Senate seats and 125 House seats.

There are 16 (9.70%) contested Democratic primaries and 83 (50.30%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there will be 99 races tomorrow with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 30.00% figure of total contested primaries in Kansas is higher than the current national contested average of 19.38%.

The main reason for the high number of contested Republican primaries has to do with a divided GOP - conservative members of the party, led by Gov. Sam Brownback, stand on one side, while more moderate Republicans, backed by former Gov. Bill Graves (R), are on the other. Thus, the primary election has become the main event in many of these districts as the general election will be a mere formality. It is not a question which party will control the legislative chambers, but which faction of the Republican Party.[5]

PACS affiliated with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity have stood with Brownback and have specifically targeted certain moderate Republicans for defeat while backing their challengers.[6] This led to the formation of a new PAC supporting moderates, the Kansas Jobs PAC. Controlled by Republican President of the Senate Steve Morris, the Jobs PAC has drawn large donations from a diverse number of groups, including Morris' Senate Republican Leadership Committee as well as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Kansas National Education Association, and other labor groups.[7]

No one seems to know how things are going to play out, in no small part due to new district lines. While the Legislature is responsible for redistricting, lawmakers were unable to agree on new maps, sending the task to the courts. It was the first time ever that Kansas' maps had to be drawn by a court and they didn't take up the job lightly. As Chapman Rackaway, a political science professor at Fort Hays State University, explained "I think the court tried to make it as chaotic as possible and tried to maximize turnover for no other reason than to teach the Legislature a lesson: Don’t do this again."[8][9]


Notable races in the Senate include:

Republican Party District 15: One of many incumbent v. incumbent battles, District 15 incumbent Jeff King will face District 14 incumbent Dwayne Umbarger. A freshman, King was first elected to the Senate in 2011, while Umbarger has served in the chamber for the past 15 years. Umbarger has been targeted by conservative groups for his more moderate views.[10]
Republican Party District 25: Incumbent Jean Schodorf faces a challenge from newcomer Michael O'Donnell. Schodorf has been targeted by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce PAC, as well as others, for not being conservative enough. O'Donnell, who is 27, currently serves on the Wichita City Council, which he was elected to in April 2011.[11]
Republican Party District 31: Incumbent Carolyn McGinn is seeking to stave off a challenge by newcomer Gary Mason, the owner and operator of iSi Environmental. McGinn is another incumbent who is been targeted for being too moderate. As of late July, over 250 voters in the county have switched their party affiliation from Democrat or undeclared to Republican. There is no Democrat in the race.[12]
Republican Party District 39: Incumbent Stephen R. Morris was first elected to the Senate in 1993 and has served as President of the Senate since 2004. He is facing a challenge from current state Rep. Larry Powell, who has served in that chamber since 2001. Morris has been targeted by conservatives for defeat. According to fundraising reports filed on July 30, Morris has greatly out raised his opponent, bringing in nearly $89,000 since January 1 and spending over $148,000 on his campaign. Powell, on the other hand, has raised around $29,000 and spent $21,000.[13]


Notable races in the House include:

Republican Party District 73: Incumbent Clark Shultz has served in the House since 1997. In 2010 he was re-elected without any opposition in the primary or general election - this time he has both. Opposing Shultz in the primary is newcomer Nicholas Lee Reinecker. In order to stay in the 73rd District, Shultz registered the residential address of an apartment leased for his daughter.[14]
Democratic Party District 102: In perhaps the most noteworthy Democratic primary, long time incumbent Jan Pauls faces a challenge from Erich Bishop. Although a Democrat, Pauls has often taken far right stands on social issues, such as gay rights. In 2011, she fought against the removal of an anti-sodomy law. Bishop, on the other hand, is a 28-year old openly gay man who grew up with a father who was at the time a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and is much more liberal on social issues.[15]
Republican Party District 125: Another longtime incumbent, Carl Holmes has served in the House since 1985 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2010 without any opposition. His challenge comes from Reid Petty, who currently serves on the USD No. 480 School Board and is Chairman of the Seward County Republican Party.[16]

Kansas State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 8 9
     Republican Party 32 31
Total 40 40

Kansas House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 33 33
     Republican Party 92 92
Total 125 125

See also

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