The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

April 12, 2010

Race in Kansas’ 2nd District could heat up for GOP incumbent

The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — A conservative Kansas legislator said Monday he will announce in a few weeks whether he will challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins in the Republican primary.

State Sen. Dennis Pyle’s actions in recent months suggest the Hiawatha farmer, who’s served in the Legislature since 2001, is running against Jenkins in the Aug. 2 primary. He set up a campaign organization in November and has a Web site featuring a brief video of him on his farm, asking viewers for support.

It would be the first primary challenge for an incumbent U.S. House member from Kansas since 1998.

“I am very close to making an announcement,” Pyle said during a telephone interview. “Hopefully, within the next few weeks, if not sooner.”

Jenkins has been a reliable GOP vote against economic proposals from President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, including the new federal health care law. She’s already received the endorsements of Kansas’ two GOP senators, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts.

She’d start a primary race with a big financial advantage. She began the year with a $653,000 balance in her campaign fund, while the figure for Pyle was about $44,000, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

“Right now, I’m just focused on taking care of business, because I’ve always said if you take care of business, the politics will take care of itself,” she said. “I take nothing for granted.”

Democrats’ only declared candidate is Cheryl Hudspeth, of Girard. She had worked in banking and economic development but has been taking care of her husband for several years following an auto accident.

“There are some other folks who are looking at the race,” Kansas Democratic Party spokesman Tyler Longpine said, declining to name them.

The eastern Kansas district leans in voter registration toward the GOP but has been competitive for Democrats.

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