TOPEKA — Kansas Republicans repeated their sweep on Tuesday of the state’s four congressional districts, keeping the U.S. House seats in the party’s hands for the second straight election cycle.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Topeka Republican, earned a third term in Congress in the 2nd District, while three freshmen easily won re-election to their seats.
The races follow a trend in Kansas politics in recent years that has seen Republicans and the party’s conservative wing gain a tighter grip on elected offices, despite increases in the number of unaffiliated voters. Democrats have struggled over that time to field candidates in all of the districts, or have had to rely on relative political newcomers to step forward.
That was the case in the 2nd District where Jenkins faced Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen, a Topeka pastor making his first run at public office. The district covers much of eastern Kansas. Because of new boundaries drawn in June the district includes all of Lawrence and Douglas County which had previously been in the 3rd District.
Jenkins campaigned on jobs and the economy, vowing to continue to fight back government regulations on small businesses, including blunting the effects of the new health care act. Schlingensiepen, in his first political campaign, won a three-way Democratic primary in August. The last Democrat to hold the seat was Nancy Boyda who lost to Jenkins in 2008.
Kelly Hart, a 30-year-old teacher, took the day off from South Middle School in Lawrence to vote. A registered independent, she voted for Mitt Romney for president, but Jenkins for Congress based on personal experience.
She said Jenkins had been helpful with her father’s business, which recycles asphalt for construction uses. Hart said her father even went to Washington on the issue and Jenkins followed through on her help.
“That says something about her,” Hart said. “Outside of politics she’s a nice lady.”
In the 4th District in south-central Kansas, GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo defeated Democrat Robert Tillman. Both are from Wichita. Republicans have held this seat since 1994 when Pompeo’s predecessor Todd Tiahrt took the seat from Democrat Dan Glickman. Pompeo won in 2010 when Tiahrt vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.
Tillman spent 30 years working on social issues, including 24 years as a court services officer. Tillman supported raising taxes on the top 1 percent of wage earners to help balance the budget.
Third District GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder of Overland Park faced only Libertarian Joel Balam in his bid for a second term in the Kansas portion of the Kansas City metro area. Yoder was unopposed in the August primary and Democrats didn’t field a candidate for the November general election.
The district covers all of Johnson, Wyandotte and the northern portion of Miami counties. Yoder defeated the wife of former Rep. Dennis Moore, a Lenexa Democrat, to take the seat long sought by Republicans since Moore’s first victory in 1998.
Yoder gained unwanted notoriety during the summer when reports surfaced that he swam nude in the Sea of Galilee during a congressional junket to Israel in August 2011. The action earned Yoder a rebuke from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp faced no opposition on Tuesday after being unopposed in the August GOP primary. Huelskamp is a former state senator with conservative credentials on both fiscal and social issues.
The 1st District covers the largest geographic portion of Kansas, predominantly an agriculture-based economy, but because of redistricting does include Manhattan and Fort Riley.