Saturday, October 28, 2006

KS-02: DCCC Launches a Surprise Intervention

Posted by James L.

From the AP:

House Democrats launched a surprise television attack against Rep. Jim Ryun of Kansas on Friday night, hoping to increase the number of competitive races in the battle for control of Congress.

Ryun “voted against a $1,500 combat bonus for our troops, but voted to give himself a huge pay raise — twice,” the ad says of the five-term lawmaker.

It praises his rival, Nancy Boyda, as “honest and independent — the right change for Kansas.”

The district, centered on Topeka, has been in Republican hands since 1995. The race had not generally been described by strategists in either party as a competitive one, and the commercial does not mention that Boyda is a Democrat.

Aside from some internal polling showing a tight race that some questioned, KS-02 was definitely not a race on the radar screen this cycle. But with Sebelius on the top of the ticket and Ryan performing at his weakest in 2004, perhaps the DCCC is sensing some vulnerability here. If I recall correctly, Chuck Todd of the National Journal called this a seat that could very well flip in a wave, anti-incumbent year. If the D-trip is making a last-minute intervention here, it might bode well for the chances of other 2nd and 3rd tier candidates receiving an unexpected boost.

Keep your eyes peeled for more last-week surprises.

Update: And it's not chump change, either: the DCCC is putting over $300,000 into this district, on ads both attacking Ryun and boosting Boyda. They're also spending nearly $200k on attack ads against Republican Rep. Ron Lewis (KY-02), which is also a bit eyebrow-raising.

Posted at 04:28 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Kansas | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Friday, September 15, 2006

KS-02, KS-AG: What on Earth is Going on in Kansas?

Posted by James L.

So yesterday, SurveyUSA dropped a whole load of polls on statewide races in Kansas. Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius is performing very well, leading Republican Jim Barnett by 58-38. That's no surprise. Slightly more surprising are the polling results for the real statewide dogfight in Kansas this year: the battle for the Attorney General's office (likely voters):

Paul Morrison (D): 48
Phill Kline (R-Inc.): 51
MoE: ±4.1%

Paul Morrison was the Republican District Attorney of Johnson County (Kansas' most populous county with over 506,000 residents), who switched his party affiliation to Democrat last year and filed to run against Kline shortly thereafter, part of an emerging narrative in Kansas politics under Sebelius' deft stewardship. I haven't been following the dynamics of this race other than Kline's relentless anti-abortion related legal activity while in office. Needless to say, it seems that Kline's extreme conservative tack and Morrison's profile have put this race in play for Kansas Democrats. For comparison's sake, the other statewide Republican incumbents facing re-election battles this year (Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, and Treasurer) are all at or above 60%. I'm just thinking out loud here, but it's important to build up the Democratic bench in states like Kansas (and I will dismiss any arguments that converting moderate Republicans to the Democrats in Kansas is a bad thing), because, who knows, someday we could see Paul Morrison, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, or Governor. I'm thinking a few moves ahead here.

Even more surprising, though, is this internal poll on the congressional race in KS-02 (likely voters):

Nancy Boyda (D): 42.5
Jim Ryun (R-Inc.): 41.2
Undecided: 16.2
MoE: ±4.6%

Here's the context:

Boyda said the only reason she was revealing the data was that on Thursday a front page story in the Kansas City Star downplayed her chances against Ryun because she was receiving little attention from the national Democratic Party in Washington, D.C.


But Ryun’s spokesman Black dismissed Boyda’s poll claims.

“If any legitimate, scientific polling firm found these results, the national Democrats would not have written off this race as reported by the Kansas City Star on Sept. 14,” he said.

State Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the polling company Infomark Research has a reputation for accuracy, and cited several instances of how it predicted winners in close races.

“This is a winnable race for Nancy Boyda,” Hensley said.

I don't know anything about Informark Research, although they look legit after a cursory glance. But what the heck is going on in this race that could lead to it being a statistical tie? Nancy Boyda was the 2004 nominee in this district, and lost pretty decisively, 56-41, to Jim Ryun (fairing only slightly better than John Kerry did in the district, who lost by a 59-39 margin). So why on Earth should this district be more competitive this cycle? Ryun's record in the House is fairly analogous to Kline's record as AG--that is, extremely conservative. Could we really be seeing the results of this much-hyped intra-party rift between all-or-nothing social conservatives and more moderate Republicans in Kansas at play in KS-02 and elsewhere in the state, scoring some gains up and down the ballot for Democrats this cycle? Time will tell.

Posted at 05:48 PM in 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - State, Kansas | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati