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Archive for Monday, June 26, 1995

DECISION

June 26, 1995

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A number ofinterested Republicans are standing in line, waiting to see if U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers decides to seek re-election again in 1996.

U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers, R-Kan., hasn't made it clear whether she will make a run for re-election in 1996 for the state's 3rd Congressional District seat.

But a line is already forming among elected GOP officials in Johnson County who would like to step in if the 66-year-old Mrs. Meyers decides to retire.

Mrs. Meyers will make a decision at the end of this year, said her press secretary, Kirk Walder. Now that Republicans have control of the House, Mrs. Meyers has taken a greater role and is enthused about chairing the House Small Business Committee.

"It's certainly different, and she finds it much more interesting being in the majority," Walder said. "She won't make a decision until December."

Political observers differ as to who would have the upper hand in winning the seat, which represents Lawrence and most of Douglas County and Johnson, Wyandotte and Miami counties.

Showing some potential

State Sen. Dick Bond, R-Overland Park, knows the district well. Bond served as chief of staff for three members of Congress from the 3rd District.

Bond worked for Republicans Bob Ellsworth, of Lawrence, who was elected in 1960 and served six years, and Larry Winn, of Overland Park, who served for 18 years. Bond also served briefly for Mrs. Meyers when she was first elected in 1984.

Bond, who has ruled himself out from running, predicted that Overland Park Mayor Ed Eilert, a Republican, would be the front-runner.

"But I would expect there would be a number of other potential candidates," Bond said.

He said those are state Rep. Phill Kline, R-Shawnee, state Sen. Mark Parkinson, R-Olathe; Kansas Republican Party Chairman David Miller, Eudora; Fred Logan, a former GOP state chairman; and House Majority Leader Vince Snowbarger, R-Olathe.

Contacted last week, Eilert, 56, said: "If the seat is open, I am interested."

An investment broker, Eilert has been Overland Park's mayor since 1981. He had served on the city council there since 1977. During his mayoral years, Overland Park's population has grown from 81,000 to 130,000.

Parkinson, an attorney who gained visibility in helping to bring back the death penalty to the state, said Saturday that he would consider a bid for the seat if Mrs. Meyers retires.

"It's something I would look at very seriously," he said. "I think everyone is kind of holding back to see what Congresswoman Meyers will do."

Contacted Saturday, Snowbarger also said he was "very interested."

Miller, who led conservatives statewide to take over the Republican Party, would neither confirm nor deny whether he was interested in the 3rd District seat. However, Miller said state Sen. Sandy Praeger, Lawrence, was a potential candidate.

"I would be very surprised if she didn't look at it," Miller said.

Praeger this morning said that she was not interested in any elective position at this time other than her state senator's post. Generally speaking, however, she noted that "it would be difficult" for any candidate from Douglas County to be successful in a race against a candidate from the more-populous Johnson County.

GOP maneuver

Two Kansas University faculty members who keep a close watch on Kansas politics came up with some different names.

Russell Getter, an associate professor of political science and government, predicted that former state Rep. Kerry Patrick, R-Leawood, who ran against Mrs. Meyers four years ago, would be a candidate.

Getter said he had heard that Mrs. Meyers might "be feeling her age. I had heard that she was just feeling tired."

If she retires, there will be a lot of maneuvering among younger Republicans to replace her because the district is so solidly Republican, Getter said.

"Once you have been elected in that district, the chances are you could get re-elected again and again and again. It's known in the business as a safe seat," Getter said.

Democrats have had difficulty winning that seat, Getter said. During the last election, Democrats rallied strongly behind Judy Hancock, one of their strongest candidates in years. But Mrs. Meyers took 57 percent of the vote to Hancock's 43 percent.

"Barring some gigantic Republican catastrophe, the Democrats are not going to be able to elect their candidate for Congress in the 3rd District," Getter said.

Allan Cigler, a KU political science professor, agreed that Kerry Patrick would probably run again, as well as Tom Love, a former state legislator who challenged Mrs. Meyers in a primary race in 1994.

But Cigler doubted that Mrs. Meyers would be ready to leave Congress yet.

"Both she and (U.S. Sen. Nancy) Kassebaum are in positions of committee chairs now, and that makes it more likely that they are going to stay," Cigler said.

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