Politics & Government

GOP directs $1.8 million to defend two House seats in deep red Kansas

U.S. Rep Kevin Yoder of Kansas
U.S. Rep Kevin Yoder of Kansas TNS

National Republicans are sinking $1.8 million into deep red Kansas to defend two GOP-held congressional seats in the state — a sign of how fiercely competitive the battle to control the U.S. House of Representatives has become.

The spending in Kansas is comes on top of $62 million in ad reservations across 11 states announced in April by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House GOP told The Kansas City Star on Tuesday.

The money is going to reserve air time for political ads that will air from Oct. 9 through Election Day in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District in suburban Kansas City, and 2nd Congressional District, which includes Topeka and Lawrence.

In the 3rd District, Democratic attorney Sharice Davids is challenging four-term incumbent GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder.

In the 2nd District, the House seat is open after the retirement of GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins. Republican U.S. Army veteran Steve Watkins is running to succeed her against Democrat Paul Davis, a former state legislator and gubernatorial candidate.

The NRCC declined to break down how much the committee was committing to each race.

Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder addresses the crowd gathered for a watch party after winning the republican primary election for the third district.

The announcement of the ad buy comes on the heels of a Politico report on Friday, citing four anonymous sources, that Yoder had recently complained to allies that the NRCC “hasn’t done enough to help him in his re-election bid.”

The NRCC also added Yoder on Wednesday to its Patriot Program, which aims to boost fundraising for incumbents facing tough re-election bids in 2018.

“Rep. Yoder is running one of the strongest campaigns in the country,” said NRCC spokeswoman Kerry Rom in a statement. “We’re standing by him to ensure he has the resources needed to defeat the Democratic machine that’s parachuting into Kansas.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee already has ads up in both the 2nd and 3rd districts in Kansas. The latest ad hits Yoder for his vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“As Congressman Yoder heads back to D.C., Kansans will be reminded of his harmful healthcare record back home,” said DCCC spokesperson Rachel Irwin. “...His vote to gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions like asthma, cancer and diabetes will be a huge liability as healthcare remains a top issue for voters this November.”

Lindsay Wise: 202-383-6007, @lindsaywise, lwise@mcclatchydc.com