Topeka U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, a Republican from Lawrence, on Friday filed to seek re-election for a sixth term and said illegal immigration was the top issue on voters' minds.
"The No. 1 and No. 2 issues are immigration and immigration," said Ryun, who gained fame early in life as a record-breaking track star.
Ryun, 59, represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes west Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan and much of southeast Kansas. The district also extends north to the Nebraska border.
At this point, only one other candidate has filed for the race: Democrat Nancy Boyda, 50, of Topeka, a former research manager for pharmaceutical companies who lost to Ryun in 2004.
Ryun defended the war in Iraq and said the U.S. was making progress.
He touted his work in the district, including the decision to return the Army's 1st Infantry Division to Fort Riley.
Ryun summed up his political beliefs, saying, "I represent smaller government, fewer taxes and family values."
More about Congressman Ryun
He declined to talk about a possible rematch with Boyda, whom he defeated 56 percent to 41 percent in a contentious race.
Boyda has said the Iraq war was a mistake and has disagreed with Ryun's vote for an immigration bill approved in the House that would make felons out of people here illegally and those who may have provided humanitarian aid to them.
"People are ready for a change," Boyda said.
She said the U.S. must control its borders but asked, "Where has Jim Ryun been on this the past 10 years?"
Asked if there should be a chance for illegal immigrants to seek citizenship in the U.S., Ryun said: "If they will come out of the dark, identify who they are, if they want to get in line behind everyone else, go home first and get in line just like everyone else, then I think that's an appropriate path at this point."
Ryun also said voters in the district seem to be pretty content with how things are going.
"I feel the 2nd District is comfortable where they are at the moment," he said.
Boyda disagreed, saying voters are concerned about health care costs, the economy and gasoline prices.
"I spend a lot of my time pulling people off the ledge. They feel like this country is in trouble," she said.
Ryun recently sold his house in the country and now lives on Sagamore Court in Lawrence.
Recently, Democrats have hammered Ryun for campaign funds he received from indicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and for a house in Washington, D.C., that Ryun bought from a nonprofit group connected to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ryun has defended the contributions and house purchase.