Olathe Republican straw poll produces wins by Tiahrt, Yoder


Yesterday’s Olathe Republican Party picnic featured a straw poll that provided insight into statewide and local races as Kansas nears its August 3rd primary. The annual event is very popular, and this year 430 people paid the $2 fee to participate in the straw poll.

Martin Hawver, dean of Kansas Statehouse reporters, describes the importance of the event: “The picnic/poll has been closely watched in recent years because Olathe is a conservative bastion and it tends to bring Republican politics into a comfortably conservative venue from which the party’s internal strife can be measured.”

Voters vote only once in the poll.

In the straw poll for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate from Kansas, Todd Tiahrt outpolled Jerry Moran 315 to 112.

Tom Little of Mound City and Bob Londerholm of Overland Park, little-known candidates who filed close to the June 10th deadline, each received two votes.

Tiahrt’s numbers were undoubtedly boosted by the 69 folks who made a 178-mile bus trip from Wichita to Olathe courtesy of the Tiahrt campaign. Subtracting these leaves Tiahrt with a still-large victory margin of 246 to 112. These results are a boost to the Tiahrt campaign, as it is thought that northeast Kansas is a key battleground in this contest. Hawver’s caveat that Olathe is a conservative bastion must be kept in mind, as Tiahrt makes an explicit appeal to conservative voters.

Both Tiahrt and Moran — along with many members of their campaign staffs — attended the event. Moran had to leave the picnic before the speechmaking started to attend to his mother, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Kansas Senator Karin Brownlee, an Olathe Republican, spoke in Moran’s place. Tiahrt spoke in person, and his speech was enthusiastically received by the audience.

It is commonly thought that the winner of this August Republican primary election will cruise to victory in the November general election.

In the contest for race for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the third district of Kansas, the straw poll showed these results:

Kevin Yoder 156
Patricia Lightner 117
John Rysavy 55
Dan Gilyeat 52
Jean Ann Uvodich 23
Craig McPherson 7
Garry Klotz 5
Dave King 0
Jerry Malone 0

The winner of the primary will face the winner of the Democratic party primary, either Stephene Moore (wife of current officeholder Dennis Moore) or Thomas Scherer.

In these straw polls, it is common for campaigns to pay the poll fee ($2 for this poll) for their supporters. In this case, the Yoder campaign went a little further, distributing free coupons that, when turned into a Yoder campaign representative, would let a family avoid paying the $10 admission fee. It is not known how many of these tickets were used, and other campaigns may have done the same.


7 responses to “Olathe Republican straw poll produces wins by Tiahrt, Yoder”

  1. FactMan

    Well more than 69 people came from Wichita. I was there and there were two large busses and a Tiahrt person told me that there was going to be a THIRD bus of 69 people but that did not happen. There were at least 140 people from Wichita. Take those out and the margin is a decent but much less impressive 150-110 vote margin, which is more in line with reality.

    Outside of staff and core supporters from the campaigns and other organizations with booths — those add up to quite a few — the event was quite sparse.

    It is not typical for campaigns to pay people to vote or attend events. Yoder’s decision to do this certainly shows a lack of confidence of where his campaign is at this juncture .. and he still got just 37% vs. Lightner, who didn’t pay a soul and got a respectable 117 votes or 28%.

    Yoder was also aided by the fact most of the Tiahrt Wichita folks voted right at the beginning, while I was told Lightner and most of her volunteers were in Edgerton working the parade, which Yoder ignored. So the Wichita voters, who didn’t know anything about the 3rd District, just got info from Yoder for about 30 minutes, which clearly aided him.

    I was a neutral observer in all of this but it seemed to be more about $$$ for the Olathe party than any real measurement of campaign status. Tiahrt isn’t up 69-31 and Yoder isn’t up 37-28.

  2. The count of 69 bus riders from Wichita came from the Tiahrt campaign, and is roughly confirmed by my own impression as a passenger on one of the buses. They weren’t full.

  3. sue c.

    It will be interesting to see how this poll translates in the August primary. I would think the organizers of it would want it to be as accurate as possible.

    The coupon gimmick by the Yoder campaign is a bit odd, but as I have found out: Politics is a tricky business.

  4. Anonymous

    FactMan sounds like an uninformed bozo with his assumptions about the number of people on a bus. He’s also quite ignorant about how campaigns are run.

  5. bman

    Rural Kansas not represented in the straw vote.

  6. KansasPatriot

    Paying for votes may be a way of life for Yoder as he was President of the Yong Democrats in College. The people who got out the most votes brought the most supporters. Ligthner, Rysvay and Gilyeat at least had unpaid-for votes.

    I hope most of the people at the event know the real Kevin Yoder. Voting “conservatively” in one session of the Kansas Legislature doesn’t make you a Conservative. NO MORE RINOs

  7. Anonymous

    Do not put much credence in “straw polls.” They can be “infil- trated.”

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