A pharmaceutical researcher from Topeka is positioning herself to be the first Democrat since 1996 to give Kansas Republican Congressman Jim Ryun a serious run for his job.
"He has not had a full-scale campaign against him since he was elected in 1996," Nancy Boyda said Monday.
Though she has yet to officially file as a candidate for Kansas' 2nd Congressional District seat, Boyda, 48, said that early next month she would formally announce her candidacy.
Since late summer she has been acting like a candidate and traveling to community events in northeast and southeast Kansas areas of the 2nd District. The district reaches into Douglas County, including roughly the western half of Lawrence, beyond Iowa Street.
Ryun, a former Kansas University track star, defeated Democratic opponent John Frieden, a Topeka attorney, in 1996 to fill the seat previously held by Sam Brownback, who was elected to the Senate to replace former Majority Leader Bob Dole that year.
Ryun lives in rural Jefferson County.
Boyda said she started thinking about running for Congress last winter because she thought the Republican-backed tax cut that Ryun voted for helped the rich at the expense of average Americans.
"The tax cut, I felt, really benefited the privileged few and the wealthy instead of creating jobs and helping our economy," Boyda said.
Boyda also was critical of Ryun's record on education, and said she disagreed with the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" legislation.
"All teachers and administrators that I speak to are beyond outrage at his education record," Boyda said.
Moreover, Boyda said Ryun had a "zero voting record" when it came to legislation benefiting family and jobs, and a "very weak" one on health care.
Mark Kelly, Ryun's chief of staff, noted that Ryun did not support "No Child Left Behind" legislation but otherwise declined to respond to Boyda's criticisms.
"At this point he (Ryun) is just going to stay focused on doing his job," Kelly said. "It's a long time until next year's election. There will be plenty of time to respond."
Boyda, who previously worked for Marion Laboratories Inc. and now is involved with a start-up pharmaceutical company, said she also wanted to speak out against high pharmaceutical costs.
Boyda and her husband, Steve, live in Topeka. They have seven children or stepchildren between them. She is an avid bicyclist and claims to have ridden across the state nine times.
"I love it," she said. "I think the state of Kansas is beautiful. I tell people to get off I-70 and it's gorgeous."
She has never held elective office.