Topeka Republican Rep. Jerry Moran won't run for governor next year, a knowledgeable GOP source told The Associated Press on Friday, amid talk from prominent party members that Moran had chosen not to enter the race.
Also, the Wichita Eagle, in a story posted on its Web site Friday, cited "a well-placed Republican source" saying Moran wouldn't run.
Moran, traveling in his 1st District, wasn't available for comment and did not return telephone messages left at his Hays office and home. Travis Murphy, his chief of staff, also did not return a telephone message.
However, Kansas Republicans in both Washington and the Statehouse in Topeka had heard speculation that Moran had decided against jumping into the race for the GOP nomination against Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is expected to seek re-election.
"I'm hearing the same thing," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, of the 4th District, who'd said he'd encouraged Moran to run for governor.
Tiahrt said he hadn't talked to Moran and, "Jerry hasn't said anything publicly."
Many Republicans have seen Moran as a strong candidate who could unite the often-feuding moderate and conservative wings of the state GOP. Some thought his candidacy might prevent a primary, and give Republicans a better chance of unseating Sebelius.
"He's got a good voting record, and he's well-known," Tiahrt said.
In 2001, many Republicans also saw Moran as a formidable contender, but less than a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he decided to run again for the House. He said he didn't feel it was appropriate to vote to use military force to fight terrorists, putting soldiers at risk, then "put on my political hat."
With Moran out, the GOP race in 2002 became a three-person contest, won by Tim Shallenburger, the most conservative candidate. Sebelius wooed moderate Republicans by promising to protect public schools.
For 2006, potential Republican candidates include 2nd District Rep. Jim Ryun, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh and Kansas House Speaker Doug Mays. Atty. Gen. Phill Kline is on many GOP advocates' lists, though he's said he's not interested. Tiahrt and Sen. Sam Brownback have said they won't run.
"Jerry has a mythical aura about him, but our other likely candidates also have plenty of strengths," said Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence.
Schmidt attributed Moran's stature among Republicans to his popularity within the huge 1st District, covering two-thirds of the state, including the western half.
And Mays said: "Anytime a member of Congress looks at a seat, a race for governor, it gives pause to others."
After eight years in the Kansas Senate, Moran won the seat for the heavily Republican 1st District in 1996 with 73 percent of the vote. He had no Democrats challenge his re-election in 2000, 2002 and 2004.
"Obviously, Jerry Moran would be a strong candidate. He's a very popular guy," said state Rep. Tom Sawyer, of Wichita, a former state Democratic chairman and his party's 1998 gubernatorial nominee. "But anybody would have a tough time beating Kathleen Sebelius right now."
Republicans see Sebelius as vulnerable because of her support for raising taxes to help public schools. Also, she vetoed a bill abortion opponents pushed to impose additional regulations on abortion clinics.
But state Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, said Moran's bowing out "opens everything up quite a bit."
And Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, added: "The party's looking to the congressional delegation. They have good name ID. They've already shown good fund raising capability. They've already shown good leadership."
|Topeka -- Add Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh to the list of Republicans who are considering a run for governor in 2006.Thornburgh, serving his third term as the state's chief election official, said he was giving the race some thought."It's something Annette and I are spending a lot of time thinking about," Thornburgh said, referring to his wife."It's not something I'm out there pushing," he said.Other Republicans who have been mentioned as possible candidates are Jim Ryun of Lawrence, Kansas House Speaker Doug Mays of Topeka, and Atty. Gen. Phill Kline.U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., had been talked about as a possible candidate, but his recent trips to Iowa and New Hampshire have been seen by some as laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign.The Republican nominee for governor will probably face Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat.|