Republicans looking past Ryun

The KC Buzz Blog has a subscription to Roll Call, thus leaned that this article about Republican comeback kids is down on Ryun. While "the National Republican Congressional Committee is prepared to back any former Member who gives the GOP its best chance of reclaiming seats the Democrats won last year," an unnamed strategist reveals that "Ryun falls into the question mark category."

The other candidate that seems to be making headlines is state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins. The Buzz Blog says she is "a campaign dynamo," but others have noted that "Lynn Jenkins hasn't ever defeated an incumbent in a competitive race, … she practically inherited her office and hasn't seen any serious challenges."

Jenkins previously held a seat in the state senate and the state house, and is now in her second term as state Treasurer. None of those posts will have raised her profile very high in communities outside of Topeka, which is a Democratic stronghold in the 2nd District.

As far as Jenkins having a reputation for running "tenacious" campaigns, or being a campaign dynamo, a quick hunt through LexisNexis turns up nothing. She won her first seat in the legislature by winning a primary against a party-switcher who got busted for missing child support payments and paying his taxes late. She has certainly done well in raising funds in subsequent elections, but there's no evidence that anyone has made a serious effort to block her from any of the offices she's held. Perhaps she's been energetic on the campaign trail, but running for Congress against a tested incumbent will be a whole different game.

If she doesn't believe it's a hard race to run, she just has to ask former track star Jim Ryun.

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Short memory ... Jenkins defeated Dennis Wilson in primary for State Treasurer. Wilson was outgoing State Treasurer Tim Shallenberger's handpicked successor. Wilson was former legislator, Johnson County Treasurer, and self-financing millionaire. After that Jenkins defeated Sally Finney in the general eletion. Sally was a strong candidate with statewide name ID. You cannot say that Jenkins isn't tested ... she's faced the best that the conservatives and Democrats can muster.

It's your gal Boyda who is untested. The only candidate she's ever faced is a guy who took a house from Jack Abramoff then had a houseparty with Mark Foley. Even then, Boyda's record is only 1-1.


I think that Jenkins's argument in 2002 was "I'm a CPA." Which is a pretty good argument when running for treasurer, especially given Shallenburger's short coat-tails. I don't remember a knock-down fight in the Treasurer election. Maybe something was happening on the ground that doesn't show up in LexisNexis, but a representative article from 2002 began "Sen. Lynn Jenkins' theme in her campaign for state treasurer is so simple that it's boiled down to three letters, placed on each of her signs - 'CPA.'" She made that race about qualifications, and people who bothered paying attention to that race went along with it. Her promise to expand agricultural loans probably didn't hurt either.

In a race for Congress, it's a very different game. Just being a CPA and a state official no one ever heard of won't be enough to get her through the primaries, let alone a general election against an incumbent. Boyda's 2006 campaign was dramatically different from 2004's, and I think she grew a lot as a campaigner during 2006.

There's no question that this will be a tough fight in '08, but the idea that Boyda is untested at this point seems a bit counterfactual. If Jenkins wants to run on experience on '08, she'll be running first against the former incumbent (whose experience is, as you observe, questionable) and if she wins, she'll be facing the only person with contemporary experience in that seat. Actually doing the job seems to be the major test that matters, and Congresswoman Boyda seems to be passing that test so far.

I won't be surprised if Phillll Kline makes a run at that seat, which should make the primary very interesting.

Let's not pump up Dennis Wilson too much. Conservatives wanted him to run, yes, but he waited a long time to decide whether or not he would run. By the time he made up his mind, he was too far behind. Had Wilson decided at the same time Jenkins did, he would have won the race.

This is not to discount Jenkins. She is likeable and isn't painted with the same brush as Sandy Praeger who is viewed as a liberal Republican.

As for Ryun, the jury's out. If he demonstrates to the NRCC that he is serious about the race, they are going to back him. They know that Ryun would be tough to beat in a primary in a "moderate versus conservative" matchup.

As for Boyda, since completely making a fool of herself the first day on the job with her now infamous ABC interview, she convinced the Democrats to give her lead sponsorship on a priority bill - which they had to do because she blew it big time on ABC. She's milked that for some pretty good coverage. Only time will tell if her "independent" campaign strategy will work in 2008, a presidential election year.