State Rep. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, handily won Lawrence's seat in the Kansas Senate on Tuesday with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
Praeger attributed the victory mostly to her work to pass children's legislation as a member of the Kansas House.
Praeger beat Democrat Joyce Wolf and Libertarian Rodger Woods for the 2nd District seat, which is being vacated by Sen. Wint Winter Jr., a Lawrence Republican.
Praeger had 20,785 votes, or 58.2 percent, to Wolf's 12,614, or 35.3 percent. Woods had 2,181 votes for 6.1 percent.
Praeger, a former Lawrence mayor who represented the western Lawrence 44th House District the past two years, said her work on a bipartisan effort for children helped her win.
"People in Douglas County, I think, recognize the fact that it is very important to focus our attention in the state on children," Praeger said. "We're going to have long-term solutions to the social ills that plague our state, and I think we need to start at the root of that, when those problems begin, when those adults are children."
PRAEGER said she hoped to continue working on the children's initiatives that were spearheaded in the Kansas House during the 1991 and 1992 session.
The initiatives focused on developing a blueprint for attacking the problems that plague children in Kansas. They involved looking at the way children's programs are funded and determining whether they should be changed.
Legislators also looked at education programs, including starting school breakfast programs, increasing immunizations for children age 2 and younger, she said.
Praeger had not been able to analyze the race late Tuesday night. However, she said the early returns put her in the lead, and that lead continued to expand as the returns came in.
"I hope it's across the board," she said. "I would like to hope that I had strong support throughout the 2nd District."
Praeger said she recognized that many of the newly registered voters in the district were Kansas University students. And she said that as a representative of Lawrence's 44th House District, which includes many students, she often met with with several student groups.
"I think they probably had something to do with the vote total," she said. "I had a good relationship with the students in the past."
WOLF said she thought her campaign went well, considering that she was underfunded, compared with Praeger. Campaign finance reports showed that Praeger had spent $17,528 on her race as of Oct. 22, compared with Wolf's $4,780.
"When you compare returns to dollars, I guess we had a respectable race," Wolf said. "We relied heavily on volunteers. It was the first time I had ever run, and it was the first time many of them had worked on a campaign. So many of us were neophytes. . . . I really enjoyed it."
Wolf said many of the voters in the district were worried about health care costs and about improving the quality of education for non-college bound students.
"I had just a good pleasant experience talking to people out there," she said. "That kind of surprised me. I enjoyed that."
Wolf said she didn't know whether she would run again. And she said she will need time to decide whether she will lobby again for the Audubon Society.
LIBERTARIAN Rodger Woods said he was pleased that he received 2,181 votes and that it showed more people were considering the Libertarian Party as an alternative to the major parties.
"I did a lot better than I thought I would do," Woods said. "I was thinking I would get about 1,000 votes and I more than doubled that. So I am pretty pleased with that."
Woods said that because there are only 380 registered Libertarians in the county, his vote total "certainly tells us there's a lot of dissatisfaction with the Republicans and Democrats.
"I think there are a lot of people willing to look at a third party and to consider change," he said.
Woods, a KU junior studying history and journalism, said it was too early to determine whether he would run for office again.