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Archive for Saturday, August 14, 2004

Nominee’s withdrawal from Senate race has Kansas Democrats exploring options

August 14, 2004

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— A political unknown who didn't campaign but still won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Sam Brownback said Thursday that he is withdrawing from the race.

Robert Conroy, 76, a retired railroad employee from Shawnee, got 56 percent of the vote last week against a better known rival who everyone, including Conroy, expected to win. Lee Jones, 53, a railroad engineer from Lenexa and former lobbyist, traveled the state, created a Web site and spent more than $13,000 on his unsuccessful campaign. Jones had been the Democratic nominee for a U.S. House seat from the 3rd District in 1990.

Conroy, who did not plan to campaign for the general election race against Brownback, had little to say Thursday about his decision to withdraw.

"Just tired, I guess," he said.

In June, Conroy said he filed as a candidate only to make sure that Brownback, seeking a second full term, would have an opponent. Brownback got 87 percent of the vote in the primary.

The Kansas Democratic Party can name a candidate to replace Conroy on the ballot. The party's state committee meets Aug. 21 in Wichita.

Asked if Jones might be selected, Mark Simpson, the party's executive director, said, "We're really looking at all of our options right now."

Jesse Borjon of the Kansas secretary of state's office said Conroy's withdrawal will not be official until the State Board of Canvassers certifies the primary election results. He said the board, which has a Sept. 1 deadline, is tentatively scheduled to meet on Aug. 27.

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