U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., declared his neutrality Wednesday in the race for the state Republican Party nomination for governor.
``I will not be getting involved in the primary, but I will be backing the winner,'' Brownback told reporters during a telephone news conference from Washington, D.C.
David Miller, a conservative who is stepping down as state Republican chairman today, made it official Tuesday that he would challenge Gov. Bill Graves, a moderate, for the party's gubernatorial nomination. State Board of Education member Steve Abrams also is a candidate in the primary.
Brownback, who is in the conservative wing of the party, criticized Graves two years ago for getting involved in the Senate GOP contest to fill the remaining two years of Sen. Bob Dole's seat.
Brownback, then a congressman, announced he would run for the seat. But Graves appointed his former lieutenant governor, Sheila Frahm, then supported her in the primary.
Brownback beat Frahm in the primary and defeated Democrat Jill Docking in the general election.
Brownback, who is up for re-election this year, said he wasn't concerned that Miller's candidacy would harm the party or other Republican congressional members, like himself, seeking re-election.
U.S. Rep. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., also held a telephone conference Wednesday, but did not answer political questions.
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