Kansas stood as an island of calm on a fast-moving election map Tuesday night, from the presidential race to a U.S. Senate contest and all four of the state’s congressional districts.
Republican Donald Trump led Democrat Hillary Clinton in early returns by a margin of 54 percent to 39 percent. The New York businessman carried Kansas, which hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1964.
Libertarian Gary Johnson was getting about 5 percent of the vote, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein about 2 percent.
Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran defeated Lawrence attorney Patrick Wiesner, leading by a margin of 60 percent to 35 percent in early unofficial returns from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. Moran was heavily favored to win a second Senate term, if nothing else, by history: Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1932.
1964 The last time a Democrat carried Kansas in a presidential election.
In the sprawling 63-county “Big First” 1st Congressional District, Great Bend physician Roger Marshall, a Republican, led independent Alan LaPolice, a Clyde educator, by a margin of 64 percent to 28 percent.
A Libertarian candidate, Kerry Burt, who withdrew and endorsed LaPolice, was still winning 9 percent.
Closer to Kansas City, in the 3rd Congressional District, Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder was in a closer-than-expected race with Democrat Jay Sidie, but with an early lead of 53 percent to 41 percent. Yoder’s district, though traditionally Republican, was thought to be leaning toward Clinton at the presidential level.
1932 The last time a Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate from Kansas.
In the state’s 2nd and 4th districts, Republican Reps. Mike Pompeo and Lynn Jenkins were likely to declare victory over their Democratic opponents.
In early returns, Pompeo led Democrat Daniel Giroux by a margin of 57 percent to 34 percent. Jenkins held an early lead of 56 percent to 37 percent over Democrat Britani Potter.
Republicans had to defend numerous seats in states won by President Barack Obama, but they never really had to worry about Kansas.
In contrast to the competitive Senate race in neighboring Missouri between Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander, Kansas’ Senate race was a predictably safe win for Republicans.
The party had to defend numerous seats in states won by President Barack Obama, but they never really had to worry about Kansas. They spent tens of millions of dollars in states like Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada and even Missouri.
It appears to have paid off: In early returns, Republican incumbents prevailed in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin, with other races too close to call.
No matter which party controls the Senate in January, Moran will return to Capitol Hill as a second-term lawmaker with more seniority. If his past chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is any indication, Moran may seek a more prominent role in his party’s leadership.
Speaking to a group of reporters in Overland Park, Moran acknowledged voters’ frustration with Congress and other institutions they’ve grown to distrust.
“I think there’s just a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction with the way things are in Washington, D.C.,” Moran said. “And I think they want to make certain that you’re something different than what the problem is in Washington, D.C.”
The only real suspense this year was in the August primary in the 1st Congressional District.
The only real suspense this year was in the August primary in the 1st Congressional District. After a bruising campaign where outside groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on negative ads and mailers, Marshall beat Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp, one of the most outspoken conservatives on Capitol Hill.
Huelskamp may be laying the groundwork for a comeback, however. Last month, he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to be a candidate for Congress from the 1st Congressional District in two years.
The outcome of the presidential race in Kansas, and its six electoral votes, was rarely in doubt. But close margins in multiple states — Ohio, North Carolina and Florida among them — made the race too close to call late Tuesday.
Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star contributed to this story from Overland Park, Kansas.