Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, a U.S. Senate hopeful, left, shares a moment at his campaign headquarters with one of his Plainville High School classmates, Bonnie Staab, during a campaign rally on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010, in Hays, Kansas. (AP PHOTO /The Hays Daily News, Steven Hausler) | Buy Journal Photos


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Moran tops Tiahrt

By JOHN HANNA/The Associated Press

TOPEKA — Kansas Republicans on Tuesday chose U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran as their nominee for an open U.S. Senate seat in a primary race that saw both leading candidates fighting aggressively and sometimes bitterly for conservative GOP voters.

Moran overcame a strong challenge from fellow Rep. Todd Tiahrt, and the key issue for many voters was which longtime congressman would be more aggressive in fighting President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Moran promoted endorsements from conservative senators such as tea party favorite Jim DeMint of South Carolina, while Tiahrt had the backing of former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Baker University assistant dean Lisa Johnston won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

But the new GOP nominee is likely to hold the Senate seat as long as he wants. Republican-leaning Kansas hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1932, and incumbent senators typically often receive only token challenges.

The seat belongs to Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican and vocal abortion opponent who’s running for governor instead of re-election to the Senate. Moran began the race with a better than 2-to-1 fundraising edge, but Tiahrt had the loyal support of many conservative activists, particularly the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life.

The two candidates battled over relatively small differences in their records and focused much of their time on character issues. Tiahrt questioned Moran’s commitment to being a conservative, while Moran suggested Tiahrt had become a Washington insider.

“To be honest I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the two,” said Pat Drummond, a 54-year-old self-employed house cleaner from the Kansas City-area suburb of Overland Park, who voted for Moran. “I think either one would do a good job.”

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