Republicans Brian Kubota, a local landscape architect, and Bob Skahan, a local financial consultant, rolled up victories Tuesday in GOP primary races for two of Lawrence's three legislative seats.
In the Kansas House 44th District GOP race, Kubota soundly defeated Michael Walsh, an IBM executive, with 71.79 percent of the vote to Walsh's 28.2 percent, or 1,446 to 568.
Kubota will face Democrat Barbara Ballard, Lawrence school board president and acting dean of student life at Kansas University, and Libertarian Jay D. Germano, a KU graduate student, in the Nov. 3 general election.
IN THE KANSAS House 45th District Republican primary, the race was much closer 100 votes. Skahan, a political newcomer, beat Martha Parker, a rural Clinton woman who has run for the seat three other times, 1,005 to 905, or 52.61 percent to 47.38 percent.
Skahan moves on to the general election to face Democrat Forrest Swall, a KU social welfare professor, and Libertarian Michael Davidson, a microcomputer consultant at KU.
Both Skahan and Kubota had made their way to the Douglas County Courthouse by about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday as the final results were being tallied.
Skahan, flanked by his wife, Patty, and his children, Skip, 10, and Carrie, 9, smiled broadly when he learned he had won.
"We felt all along it was going to be very close," Skahan said. "I'm real excited. It was a very wonderful experience."
Skahan attributed his victory to door-to-door campaigning in the 45th District, which covers most of western Douglas County and several Lawrence areas, including North Lawrence, Prairie Meadows, Old West Lawrence, Pinckney neighborhood and Indian Hills.
He said many people were responsive to his call for term limits of four to five years.
Skahan, who says he can support abortions only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, said his pro-life stand was not a major issue with voters.
Skahan said he will stress keeping a lid on taxes.
"People are very concerned about the taxes," he said.
PARKER, WHO WAS defeated in 1984, 1986 and 1990 by Rep. John Solbach, a Democrat who is retiring this year, blamed her loss on not being able to get her message out.
She said Skahan spent more than $10,000 on his race, including $7,000 of his own money, while she spent about $2,000.
"I didn't spend any of my own money," Parker said. "There were just a number of issues I never really had the opportunity to publicly get across. I didn't really attack Bob on any of the issues."
Parker, who is pro-choice, said Skahan also was helped by pro-life forces.
"I knew they had targeted this race," Parker said. "You have low voter turnout and I'm sure all the people in his church and his network voted."
Parker said she would not run again.
"That's it. I've given enough of my time and energy," she said. "I'm still president of the Town and Country Republican Women and will continue to work to elect Republicans to office."
MEANWHILE, SWALL, who also came down to the courthouse, said he looked forward to his race against Skahan.
Swall said he would emphasize some of the positive steps the Democrats in the Legislature have taken, such as with children's initiatives and their work on health care and mental health reform.
He also said he would emphasize reform on education financing.
Swall, who is strongly pro-choice, said he thought it was important for the candidates to express their views on that subject.
After it became clear Kubota had won the 44th GOP primary Tuesday, Kubota congratulated Walsh for his "positive and clean" campaign and wasted no time in moving his sights to the November race against Ballard for the seat, which represents most of western Lawrence.
"It is a choice between someone with a record of accomplishment in the private sector and someone who has been employed by government," Kubota said. "I feel that the choice is very simple. And if you believe in the kind of leadership that the Democrats have given this state, and the governor, then you should vote for my opponent. But if you are looking for a change in leadership and a vision, then you should cast your vote for me."
KUBOTA CALLED his statehouse race "a marathon" and said he planned to touch on health, education and employment issues in the fall campaign.
He said Ballard's ties to KU make her "an insider."
"I don't see how she can represent and be employed by the University of Kansas and at the same time seek any kind of funding and support," he said. "It would be funding and support for her, and that kind of concerns me."
Kubota promised to run a "respectable campaign and speak to the issues."
Ballard, who was uncontested in Tuesday's primary, also was at the courthouse. Ballard said her affiliation with KU was not an issue with voters when she ran for the seat in 1990.
"That will have to be something that people will have to decide for themselves," she said. "I'm taking a leave of absence. And at the time of service I won't be working for KU. . . . What better person can understand what the university needs than a person who has worked there for 12 years?"
Walsh left the courthouse around 8:15 p.m. before all the results were in, when it became evident that he had lost the race. He then went out to collect his yard signs.
CONTACTED AT HIS home late Tuesday night, Walsh thanked his supporters, saying "everyone was friendly and they offered me a lot of encouragement."
He also said he would support Kubota in the fall campaign.
"We were very proud of our campaign" he said. "We started at ground zero and we weren't the candidate with money. And in three weeks we made an impact. We felt we were catching on fast, but we ran out of time."
Walsh, who spent about $1,500 on his race, said he felt he was the best prepared of all the candidates on the issues.
"We were disappointed with the low voter turnout," he said.
He said he didn't know if he would run again.
"We'll just have to evaluate it," he said.