At the annual Kansas Days festival in Topeka, the Kansas fourth district Republican candidates all hosted hospitality suites, looking to boost their chances with Kansas Republican voters. On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal ran an online piece titled Kansas GOP Could Be Its Own Worst Enemy, giving a run-down of the current political scene in Kansas.
Of particular interest to Kansas fourth district voters, the piece said this:
The Democrats’ best hope for retaining a seat in the Kansas delegation may be a two-term state legislator named Raj Goyle, who is running in the fourth district encompassing Wichita. On his Web site and in campaign literature, Mr. Goyle colors his first name blue and his last name red, emphasizes his concerns about the struggles facing businesses and avoids any mention of “Democrat.”
“I’m not a party label kind of guy,” said Mr. Goyle, a high-tech entrepreneur, Harvard-educated lawyer and Wichita native.
But his greatest advantage may be that he has no fewer than five Republicans campaigning for the chance to run against him — with more expected to enter the race by August.
(I looked at Goyle’s campaign site, and the article is correct: As far as I can tell, none of the material generated by the Goyle campaign mentions that he is a Democrat. You have to read a Wichita Eagle news story that the site reprints in order to learn his party affiliation.)
So on Saturday I individually asked the candidates about the article. Will a vigorously-contested Republican primary in August be an advantage for Goyle — assuming he is the Democratic nominee — in the November general election? Will Republicans spend all their money and energy in the primary?
In his hospitality suite Dick Kelsey said no, that the Republicans are committed to running a positive race. He said he’s running a positive campaign. Kelsey said that the Republicans will be broke after the primary, but that the party will be able to quickly raise the funds needed to run a campaign against Goyle, the likely Democratic nominee.
An operative from the Anderson campaign was spending time in the Kelsey hospitality room, and added that with a primary contest, the Republicans will be exercised. Kelsey added that Republicans will have made contacts and friendships.
At the Mike Pompeo hospitality suite, the candidate said we have a competitive primary, and that the winner will come out ready to go in the general election. He added that when Republicans start talking about Goyle and his liberal agenda, they’ll do fine in the election. Pompeo said he’s raised a lot of money, close to as much as Goyle, and the ability to raise funds is important.
In the Hartman suite, candidate Wink Hartman said it’s good for citizens to have an opportunity to select from five candidates, adding that it’s important to go through the political process to arrive at the best candidate. He mentioned the large amount of money that Goyle has raised from outside of Kansas, and that he believes that he is the only Republican candidate with the ability to raise the money necessary to win in the general election.
In the afternoon in the Jim Anderson hospitality suite, the candidate said the primary will energize and organize the Republicans. Besides the candidates, citizens are getting organized and are starting to pay attention to the issues. This will add to the strength of the candidate who wins the Republican primary.
Jean Schodorf said that a contested primary causes people to become more aware of the Republican candidates, because the Democratic candidate, not having an opponent to campaign against, doesn’t have a forum. She said that in the first debate, the Republican candidates stated publicly that they will all support the winner of the primary election in the general election. She thought that was very important, as she believes it is important to have a Republican follow Todd Tiahrt. Having five candidates makes it a healthy debate, she added.