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« Kilpatrick Safe, For Now | Blog Home Page | Martin To Face Chambliss »

Jenkins-Boyda Match Set

In perhaps the upset of the night, Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins overcame a huge cash and name recognition disadvantage to defeat ex-Rep. Jim Ryun for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic freshman Nancy Boyda. Jenkins, who ran as a moderate, won by just over 1,000 votes, a 51%-49% margin.

Defeating Ryun is something of a feat in Kansas, where the one-time track star was viewed as a local hero. That Boyda beat him at all in 2006 was a surprise -- she scored a four-point margin of victory in 2006 after losing by fifteen points in 2004. That Jenkins held Ryun off this time is a big surprise.

Ryun had backing from the Club for Growth and conservative groups, while Jenkins took a much more moderate tack. That moderate approach is usually not the way to win a Republican primary. But despite being outspent by a five-to-one margin through the July 16 pre-primary filing deadline, Jenkins denied Ryun the chance to try for his old seat.

Perhaps, though, it is not surprising that Kansas Republicans would choose a more moderate candidate. A serious schism has existed between conservatives and moderates over the past decade, handing Democrats the ability to pick off seats here and there. Governor Kathleen Sebelius won both her elections over Republican rivals by exploiting those divisions and picking moderate Republicans as running mates, sending conservatives into apoplectic fits.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has weighed in with a big ad reservation, but Boyda has asked them to pull those ads to assert her independence from the party. Boyda has a record close to the middle of the House, but in a Republican district based around the state capital in Topeka, in a presidential year the freshman Democrat is going to have real trouble holding on to her seat, and national Republicans see it as one of their top targets.