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Archive for Sunday, November 30, 2003

Political suicide

Republicans in the 3rd Congressional District seem poised again to let party divisions sabotage their chances of beating the Democratic incumbent.

November 30, 2003

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Once again, it appears that Republicans in the state's 3rd Congressional District are engaged in a political war that will give incumbent Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore an added advantage in his effort to seek another term in Congress.

A year ago, political newcomer Adam Taff came close to defeating Moore. In fact, if the Republican National Committee had given more financial support to Taff, a former Navy fighter pilot, there's a good chance he could have pulled off a major upset by defeating Moore.

Taff again is seeking the 3rd District seat and is hoping to win the GOP primary and be able to face off with Moore in the November 2004 general election.

The only problem is that two other Republicans have entered the Republican primary. With the addition of Kris Kobach, originally of Topeka but now a resident of the 3rd District, and State Rep. Patricia Lightner of Overland Park, the primary is shaping up to be a rough-and-tumble race.

A representative of the Kobach campaign already has called Taff a "tax-and-spend liberal," and Kobach supporters maintain Taff has no chance of defeating Moore.

It's a sure bet that if Kobach or Lightner is successful in splitting Republicans in the 3rd District, pitting so-called liberals against so-called conservatives, it will indeed give the Moore campaign a boost. This, even though Moore's voting record doesn't mirror the thoughts and beliefs of the majority of 3rd District residents.

Moore is a master of saying one thing when shaking hands, visiting with college educators and making the rounds in the district and then voting quite differently when he gets back to Washington.

Republicans in the 3rd District are so inflexible that they will vote for the Democratic nominee rather than support the GOP candidate if that person doesn't exactly reflect their political philosophy. This is how Moore has been able to return to Washington even though he represents a largely Republican district.

Is Kobach's attack on Taff, so early in the campaign, all the evidence needed to verify that the split among GOP moderates, conservatives and liberals continues to be deep and bitter?

If, indeed, this is the case, Moore's backers must be smiling. Divisions in the Republican Party are exactly what the Democrats need to put them in a strong position to win the congressional race. Moore will not face any primary opposition and will be able to conserve his financial resources in preparation for a race against a candidate who had to fight a rough, negative and costly primary contest.

It's difficult to understand the game of political suicide in which 3rd District Republicans engage every other year even though it isn't in the best interests of the district and its residents.

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