Turnout in the Kansas primaries was extremely low and the results rested heavily on economic issues, as AP writer John Hanna reported:
“The voting occurred against the backdrop not only of the state’s fiscal woes but ongoing legal and political disputes over funding for public schools. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since the GOP-dominated Legislature slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy.”
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran won his primary with 79% support, and Congressman Kevin Yoder won his 3rd District primary with 64%. Both have a 100% pro-life voting record.
However, embattled conservative and pro-life champion, Congressman Tim Huelskamp, lost in a fierce primary that saw multi-million dollars’ worth of ads from non-Kansas special interest groups. Challenger Roger Marshall, an Ob-Gyn doctor who describes himself as pro-life, won the GOP 1st district spot with 57% of the vote.
At the statehouse, KFL-endorsed candidates stacked up 18 wins in the House and 6 in the Senate, with 17 losses in the House and 10 in the Senate. However– and notably–in some races, the winners who had not earned KFL endorsement have stated they are pro-life.
Ten reliable pro-life reps won their primaries yesterday along with eight KFL-endorsed challengers. A key issue for KFL endorsement has been the candidate’s willingness to allow the public a vote to improve judicial selection for the state Supreme Court. Otherwise, Kansas’ pro-life laws are jeopardized by rulings from extremist judges selected without public accountability.
Pro-lifers were dismayed to learn of the defeat of eight great state representatives: Rob Bruchman, Will Carpenter, Brett Hildabrand, Jerry Lunn, Kasha Kelley, Charles Macheers, Craig McPherson, and Connie O’Brien. Three of those races had the narrowest of margins and may be recounted.
KFL-endorsed primary challengers lost in House districts 21, 45, 52, 60, 64, 68, 89, 104 and 115.
Headed into November Senate elections are pro-life incumbents Don Kerchen, Ty Masterson, and Mike Peterson along with KFL-endorsed former state reps Bud Estes and Gene Sullentrop.
Five great pro-life state Senators retired in May: Senators Steve Abrams, Les Donovan, Mitch Holmes, Jeff King and Michael O’Donnell. Primary results indicate voters in four districts (15, 25, 27 and 32), will have pro-life candidates to replace them, but not so in district 33.
Six solidly pro-life incumbent state senators disappointingly lost their primaries yesterday: Tom Arpke, Terry Bruce, Forrest Knox, Jeff Melcher, Larry Powell and Greg Smith. Four districts will be left without pro-life representation: districts 11, 14, 21, and 24.
Two of the 6 winning Senate challengers had told the public they were pro-life. In district 34, Ed Berger was the victor. In the campaign, Berger claimed he was pro-life because he was Catholic, but refused to fill out the KFL survey. In district 39, challenger John Doll, a former Democrat who lost a statewide office race before winning a seat as a GOP state rep, has a mixed voting record on the life issues.
In a very bitter result for pro-lifers, a GOP Topeka district remains in the hands of the sole GOP Senator to vote against a ban on dismemberment abortions, Sen. Vicki Schmidt. The bill was signed into law in 2015, but awaits the review of the state Supreme Court—which appears to be delaying their ruling until after the November elections in which 5 of the 7 justices are up for retention.