Overland Park U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore did it again.
The three-term incumbent won re-election to his 3rd District seat Tuesday, defeating Republican Kris Kobach.
Moore kept the predominantly Republican district, which includes east Lawrence, in Democratic hands. He is the only Democrat in the Kansas congressional delegation.
"I think people in this district want somebody who's going to look at issues on an issue-by-issue basis and not vote a straight party line," Moore said. "When the president is right, I will vote with the president. When the president is wrong, I will respectfully say, 'Mr. President, there is a better way.'"
Moore, 58, declared victory shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, flashing the thumbs-up sign to about 400 cheering supporters at the Ritz Charles convention center in Overland Park.
"I hope we can work together and that Republicans and Democrats can come together and remember what we felt on Sept. 11 three years ago," Moore said. "At that time, we weren't Republicans or Democrats; we were all Americans."
He then pulled out his guitar and led the crowd singing Woody Guthrie's anthem, "This Land is Your Land." He was joined by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Moore was leading Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, by about 9 percent, according to unofficial results. It was a wider margin than in any of Moore's previous races against Republican opponents.
The heavily Republican district includes Johnson and Wyandotte counties, and the eastern two-thirds of Douglas County. Johnson County accounts for nearly three-fourths of the district's registered voters. Wyandotte and Douglas counties make up the remaining 19 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
"No other Democrat in Congress has a district that's as Republican as the 3rd District," said Burdett Loomis, a Kansas University political science professor who's studied Moore's earlier defeats of then-incumbent Vince Snowbarger (1998), Phill Kline (2000), and Adam Taff (2002). Moore beat each of them by about 3 percent margins.
Each time, Moore won by staying within a few percentage points of his opponents in Johnson County while picking up enough votes in Douglas and Wyandotte counties to win.
"The message here, I think, is you can't cater to the right and beat a guy who's clearly a moderate Democrat," Loomis said. "That formula doesn't work."
Kobach conceded defeat about 10:30 p.m.
"At the end of the day and in the final analysis, we could not overcome the power of incumbency, the extra million dollars" that Moore raised, said Todd Abrajano, a Kobach spokesman. "And a negative ad campaign we could not compete with."
In his campaign, Kobach made few overtures to moderate Republicans, betting he could find enough conservatives among the district's unaffiliated voters to win.
Kobach, who was U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's counsel on immigration issues from September 2001 to July 2003, built much of his campaign on calls for a crackdown on illegal immigration. He vowed to fight abortion, gay marriage, stem-cell research and gun control.