Topeka Republican Rep. Jim Ryun made no excuses Thursday for his defeat Election Day, focusing more on the transition from statesman to citizen.
Ryun lost to Democrat Nancy Boyda in the 2nd District race by a 51-47 percent margin, ending his bid for a sixth term in Congress. Two years ago Ryun beat Boyda by 15 points, which he said could have explained what happened this year.
"In one regard, we were a victim of our own success," Ryun said in a telephone interview, one of his first since Tuesday's loss. "Everyone thought it was going to be an easy race. I certainly didn't."
Boyda's victory was part of a Democratic wave that saw the party regain control of the House for the first time since 1994. Democrats hold 230 seats - 12 more than needed for the majority - and could still win two more. They hold a 51-49 edge in the Senate.
Ryun said he hasn't spoken with Boyda to congratulate her, but has left repeated messages.
Ryun, the former world-record holder in the mile and Olympic silver medalist, said he hadn't stopped to analyze why he fell short. That is being left for another day.
The race once was considered safe, but growing opposition to how the war in Iraq has been handled and scandals involving former House pages generated momentum for Democrats as voters sought new leadership in Congress. Boyda tapped into that sentiment with her slogan, "Had enough?"
As the race tightened in October, Vice President Dick Cheney came to Kansas to stump for Ryun, raising $209,000. One week out, many observers were calling the race a tossup, prompting a visit by President Bush on Sunday night.
"We had a little difficulty in being able to rally the supporters until it was too late," Ryun said.
After the votes were counted, Ryun and his wife, Anne, took the stage in Topeka to thank the staff and those who gave him the chance to serve for 10 years. He didn't answer questions, saying Thursday he didn't think there was any more that needed to be said.
"The people of Kansas spoke for change. I still think I speak for the values of Kansas and will always feel that way," Ryun said.
He said his tenure in Congress was "one of the highest" accomplishments in his life, just knowing he served in the same institution that Abraham Lincoln and other American leaders once served.
"It truly is where a lot of work gets done. That's why it's called 'The people's House,'" he said.
Ryun said he didn't know what the future would hold. In a few weeks, he heads back to Washington to finish out the term and then hand the baton off to Boyda. He's more concerned with helping his staff find new careers than one of his own, looking to his deep-rooted Christian faith for guidance.
"We're just waiting on the Lord for the next orders that come," Ryun said.