Jenkins wins U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District primary

Ryun concedes early today

Kansas 2nd district congressional candidate and state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins is surrounded by her political team, from left, Pat Lepold, Joshua Lewis and Josh Hersh, as they review primary results in Topeka. Jenkins was in a close race all night Tuesday against former Congressman Jim Ryun. Jenkins' camp said Ryun conceded defeat in a private phone call around 12:30 a.m. today.

Former congressman Jim Ryun early Wednesday conceded defeat to State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins in the Republican Party primary for the 2nd Congressional District nomination.

Ryun’s campaign staff confirmed that he conceded in a private call to Jenkins around 12:35 a.m. Jenkins was leading the race by a little more than one percentage point in incomplete returns.

“We’re excited to move on to the general election,” said Jenkins’ spokesman Josh Hersh.

Just a half hour earlier, Ryun told his supporters that because of some late non-reporting precincts, the race was still up in the air.

“The race is simply too close to call at this point,” Ryun had said.

At that time, votes in seven precincts in Douglas County and all of Osage and Coffey county precincts had not been counted yet. But after the Douglas County and Osage reports came in, Ryun’s campaign said he could not make up the difference.

Late Tuesday, as she built up a small lead, Jenkins said she looked forward to running against U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Topeka.

She said voters are “hungry for new leadership.”

Jenkins was collecting more votes in urban areas of the district, while Ryun’s strength was in the more rural areas. The district includes western Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan and much of southeastern Kansas.

Many thought the Jenkins-Ryun race failed to live up to its potential because it featured the classic split in the Republican Party.

Jenkins, a former state legislator in her second term as treasurer, was cast as the moderate, while Ryun was one of the most conservative members of Congress during his five terms. In addition, Ryun has always enjoyed widespread name recognition from his days as a world-record-holding mile runner.

But in the final weeks of the campaign, the race intensified with both candidates unleashing negative TV and radio ads across the 2nd District.

Ryun noted that Jenkins had voted for tax increases while in the Legislature, while Jenkins accused Ryun of voting for amnesty for illegal aliens, frivolous budget earmarks, and running up the national debt.

Both candidates accused each other of taking their votes out of context.

In the one television debate between the two, Ryun criticized Jenkins’ tax votes, but Jenkins blamed Ryun, saying the Legislature had to balance the budget while getting unfunded mandates from Congress.

The two also clashed over Ryun’s votes for pay raises for himself while voting against a $1,500 bonus for combat troops. The bonus died on a tie vote.

But Ryun’s camp said he voted against the troop bonus because it would have diverted funds for the war effort.

Also on the November ballot will be Libertarian Robert Garrard of Edgerton and Reform Party Leslie Martin of St. Marys.