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Archive for Tuesday, August 20, 1996

KANSAS GOP USES CONVENTION TO MEND RIFTS

August 20, 1996

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Republican leaders say last week's GOP National Convention provided the tonic to help heal the party's divisiveness.

Kansans at last week's Republican National Convention have more to be thankful for than favorite son Bob Dole winning the GOP's presidential nomination.

The convention also allowed the state's GOP moderate and conservative wings the opportunity to set their differences aside at least until after the November elections.

"I think the convention occurred at just the right time for Kansas Republicans," Kim Wells, a Lawrence resident and Kansas chairman for Dole's presidential campaign, said Monday.

Less than a week after hotly contested primaries for the GOP nominations for a U.S. Senate seat and other congressional seats -- which conservatives won -- GOP conservatives and moderates were "all sort of thrown together" in San Diego, Wells said.

And going through the process of nominating Dole for president helped unify the party, he said.

"You would never know there had been any problems," Wells said.

What capped it off was conservative GOP state chairman David Miller's olive branch to moderate Gov. Bill Graves. Miller allowed Graves the honor of casting Kansas' 31 delegate votes, which clinched the nomination for Dole.

Not only did Miller introduce Graves, Miller called Graves "a great governor."

Miller, a Eudora resident who had publicly chided Graves during the primary election for endorsing candidates, explained his gesture Monday.

"I was trying to make clear and send a signal that we're all headed in the same general direction," Miller said. "The more narrow, issue-specific vote was in the primary. Now we're into the election where it is the big picture that's really important. Specifically, do Kansans want to send more Bill Clinton types to Washington to represent them? I believe the answer to that will be a resounding no."

Jim Ryun, the former Olympian who won the GOP nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat, spoke at the convention.

"I see a party that is coming together," Ryun said. "We're working together in a common goal."

Ryun, a conservative who beat former Topeka Mayor Doug Wright, a moderate, in the primary, said he and Wright had a unity breakfast after the primary. Ryun faces Democrat John Frieden, a Topeka attorney, in the Nov. 5 election.

Vince Snowbarger, a conservative who won the six-way race for the 3rd Congressional District GOP nomination, said he, too, had a unity meeting with his primary opponents.

Although some Republicans had their feelings hurt, "they'll pull back together," Snowbarger said. He faces Democrat Judy Hancock, a Prairie Village attorney, in the fall.

U.S. Rep. Sam Brownback, who beat U.S. Sen. Sheila Frahm for the nomination to Dole's former U.S. Senate seat, made peace with Frahm at the convention, said Bob Murray, Brownback's press secretary.

Murray said nominating Dole "energized" Republicans.

"There wasn't much discord," he said.

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