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Blog Home Page --> Senate -- Kansas

KS Sen Poll: Moran +3

In the race to replace Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who's running for governor, Republican Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt continue to find their separation in the polls within the margin of error. A new SurveyUSA poll finds Moran leading by 3 points (Dec. 4-7, 466 GOP LV, MoE +/- 4.6%). Nearly three in 10 likely Republican primary voters remain undecided.

Moran 37
Tiahrt 34
Und 29

Tiahrt has the more conservative voting record and was favored 40%-33% in the poll among voters who identified themselves as conservative. Among moderates, 46% chose Moran and 25% favored Tiahrt.

Moran was first elected in 1996 and Tiahrt came to Congress in historic 1994 freshman class. Both are leaving behind mostly safe districts to run for higher office -- Moran never won with less than 73% of the vote (which came in his first election to Congress), while Tiahrt has held off underfunded challengers this decade with more than 60% each time. The primary will take place in August 2010.

What If Obama's Mother Had An Abortion?

That's the hypothetical posed yesterday on the House floor by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who is fighting against taxpayer-funded abortions in Washington, DC.

From the Kansas City Star:

"If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may have taken advantage of it?" he said.

Tiahrt reasoned, "If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that will be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that will encourage women who are single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion. If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our president grew up in a similar circumstance."

He mentioned Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, too, asking "is it possible that we would be denied his great mind?"

Tiahrt is running for the U.S. Senate in the home state of Obama's mother.

KS Sen: Tiahrt Ad Champions Anti-Stimulus Stance

Political observers looking to see how the stimulus battle might play out in the 2010 midterms have an early example in the Kansas Senate race. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) launched the first TV ad of that campaign today, and it slams President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while urging Kansans to join him in his fight against the government spending program.

"These two Washington politicians, Obama and Pelosi, sold America a bill of goods," a narrator says in the 30-second spot. The Recovery Act hasn't worked, it continues, but "one Kansas conservative" is fighting to stop it. (Full script after the jump).

Tiahrt campaign manager Chuck Knapp declined to specify how much money was behind the ad buy, but said it would be airing statewide. He said the spot wasn't so much about Tiahrt's Senate campaign, but is an escalation of his efforts to rally the grassroots against excessive Washington spending.

"As the Congress is now with Speaker Pelosi, and President Obama heading up the executive, it's pretty tough for a Republican in the House to get something done. There's going to have to be a groundswell of support from the American people, and that's what Congressman Tiahrt is trying to have happen here," Knapp said in an interview. "He wanted to let Kansans and Americans know that there is a fight in Washington against the spending, he's been trying to lead that fight and he hopes Kansans and the American people will join him."

Continue reading "KS Sen: Tiahrt Ad Champions Anti-Stimulus Stance" »

Brownback Announcing Retirement

As expected, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) will announce tomorrow that he plans to retire from the Senate when his term ends in 2010, CNN reports. The second-term senator has been eyeing a run for governor for years now and will likely file official papers to do so next month.

Current Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, will be term-limited in 2010, and many Democrats hope she'll run for the vacant Senate seat. However, history is not on her side -- according to the Almanac of American Politics, Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since 1932, which is the longest streak of any state.

Brownback becomes the second Republican senator to announce his retirement this month. Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), in his first term, announced two weeks ago that he would not be running for re-election in 2010.

Republicans already had more seats up for election in 2010 than Democrats, so these openings could spell more trouble for the party. However, with President-elect Obama's pick of Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) for Interior Secretary, four Democrats will now leave the Senate for the executive branch. Of the four, Salazar's seat is likely the most vulnerable for Republican takeover in two years.

Roberts Up 20

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts has a message for the political world: He's doing just fine. While the GOP faces challenges around the country, a new internal poll shows Roberts leading his opponent, ex-Rep. Jim Slattery, by a wide margin. The state is likely to go heavily for John McCain in November, the strong support of Governor Kathleen Sebelius notwithstanding, though it would not be a surprise if Roberts outpolled the presidential contender.

The survey, conducted for Roberts by TargetPoint Consulting, polled a massive 3,004 registered voters for a margin of error of +/- 1.8%. Roberts and Slattery were tested.

General Election Matchup

The results show Roberts with a bigger lead than Slattery's latest internal poll, which nonetheless showed the incumbent Republican leading by twelve points. And given the right-leaning tilt of the state -- President Bush won by twenty-five points in 2004 and by twenty-one points in 2000 -- it will be exceedingly difficult for Slattery to climb back.

Still, Roberts has been running radio ads and has kept up his attacks on Slattery, who spent the past several years in a prominent Washington lobbying shop. Is his attention to the race just due diligence on the part of a paranoid incumbent, or are there other numbers that indicate Slattery could actually give Roberts a race?

We're leaning towards the first answer, but as the race evolves, we'll keep an eye out to see if that changes.

Slattery Talks Up Poll

He's waging a long-shot bid to boot an incumbent Republican in a deeply red state, but ex-Rep. Jim Slattery's campaign is excited by the results of a new poll that shows him trailing Kansas Senator Pat Roberts by twelve points. The poll, conducted for his campaign, shows hidden signs, the pollster says, that even Roberts might have a race on his hands.

The poll, conducted 6/5-8 by Cooper & Secrest Associates for Slattery's campaign, surveyed 808 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. Roberts, running for his third term, and Slattery were tested, as were John McCain and Barack Obama.

General Election Matchup

Generic GOPer........41
Generic Dem............40


Perhaps it is unsurprising that Obama is running so close to McCain, given the amount of attention he has paid to the state and thanks to the support of its governor, Kathleen Sebelius. McCain will likely pull away in the coming months, but Obama is known in the state.

That could help Slattery, who is running against an opponent with less than stellar job performance numbers. Just 47% view Roberts' job performance as excellent or good, while 43% say it is fair or poor. Still, if coattails mean anything, most observers agree that they begin to take effect when one party wins at the top of the ticket by more than ten points. President Bush won the state by twenty five points in 2004, and by twenty one in 2000.

Roberts, wisely, is taking nothing for granted and has run early radio ads lambasting Slattery for his past as a Washington lobbyist. After serving six terms in Congress and losing a bid for governor in 1994, Slattery returned to Washington to work for Wiley Rein, a prominent law firm in town.

Roberts Ahead, At 50

While Republicans have been buffeted in recent weeks by polls showing even some of their supposedly safest incumbents in serious electoral trouble, at least a few are still hoping for easy races this year. Seeking his third term in the Senate, Kansas Republican Pat Roberts looks in good shape to score another six years in office, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Research 2000 for DailyKos from 6/2-4, surveyed 600 likely Kansas voters for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Roberts and former Rep. Jim Slattery, the likely Democratic nominee, were tested among a sample that consisted of 33% Democrats, 45% Republicans and 22% independents and others.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Roberts.....50 / 13 / 78 / 47 / 56 / 44
Slattery......38 / 74 / 10 / 42 / 34 / 42

Both candidates are seen largely favorably by Kansas voters. Robers enjoys a 56% favorable rating, while 40% see him unfavorably, and Slattery is viewed positively by 48%, while 37% have an unfavorable opinion -- in all, a surprising 85% who have an opinion of a candidate who had not sought election since 1994, when he lost a race for governor of Kansas.

Slattery's effort is decidedly uphill, even in what is expected to be a good Democratic year. 49% of respondents said they would vote to re-elect Roberts, while 24% said they would at least consider another candidate. Only 18% said they planned to vote to replace their incumbent. A member of Congress before coming to the Senate, Roberts won his initial election in 1996 with 62%, then cruised to re-election in 2002 with 83% of the vote.

Ex-Rep To Make KS Sen Bid

Former Congressman Jim Slattery, who represented Kansas in the House for six years, will make a run for Senate, he told top Kansas Democratic officials yesterday. Slattery, who has been out of politics since running unsuccessfully for governor in 1994, and who is now lobbyist at the Washington-based firm Wiley Rein, will return to Kansas to take on Senator Pat Roberts.

Slattery would not confirm his plans to the Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske, though he did say he will return to his Topeka home immediately. Kansas Democratic Party chairman Mike Gaughan spilled the beans earlier yesterday to the Associated Press, which reported the news.

Though Democrats are excited to get what they consider to be a top-tier candidate, Slattery faces an extremely uphill climb against Roberts. In ten elections for Congress or the Senate, Roberts has never received less than 62% of the vote, and in 2002 did not even face a Democrat in his re-election bid. Kansas as a whole voted for President Bush by 21 points in 2000 and 25 points in 2004, though it has elected Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius twice and two of the four members of the House from the state are Democrats.

Roberts, one of two senators from the state elected in 1996 when he replaced Republican Nancy Kassebaum after her retirement (Sam Brownback also won election that year to fill the unexpired term of Senator Bob Dole, who resigned to run for President). Through December, Roberts had banked just over $2.7 million, making Slattery's job in a heavily Republican state that much more difficult.