The expected hard-hitting campaign in the Republican Party primary for the 2nd Congressional District nomination hasn't materialized.
Last year, political observers predicted Lynn Jenkins and Jim Ryun would be pounding each other by now for the opportunity to face U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, a first-term Democrat whom national Republicans say they can take out in November.
But last week, exactly three weeks from the Aug. 5 primary, Jenkins released her first television ad - a spot that essentially introduces her to voters and hits on themes dear to conservative Republicans.
Ryun, a five-term congressman who was defeated by Boyda in 2006, has run two ads, which talk about his background and work in Congress protecting military bases in the district from budget cuts.
"Thus far, it has been a fairly tame campaign," said Joe Aistrup, political science professor at Kansas State University.
"Maybe the thinking is that throwing everything including the kitchen sink may be a losing proposition in the long run," Aistrup said.
The winner of the primary will have to appeal to both conservative and moderate wings of the GOP to defeat Boyda in the 2nd district, which includes west Lawrence.
But while the campaign on the airwaves has been tepid so far, the rhetoric has sometimes been heated.
Jenkins said Washington, D.C., Republicans, such as Ryun, who controlled the House for more than a decade, had their chance and failed, losing their way by doubling the national debt and increasing pork barrel spending.
Of Ryun, she said, "Everybody knows that Jim Ryun didn't do a lot for us in Washington, D.C. I don't think people can name one piece of legislation that he drafted and championed that benefited us. They never saw him."
But Ryun said his defeat was based on the ballot lineup as opposed to his politics.
He explained that in 2006 Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, and attorney general candidate Paul Morrison, a Democrat, both won by large margins. By the time voters got to his name, they were thinking Democrat. Campaign visits for Ryun from President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney didn't help, most political observers agree, as the national mood sought change.
"The seat got away from us last time," Ryun said. "The lineup is different," now with a presidential election, he said. Historically, Kansas is almost a sure-thing for Republicans running for president.
Ryun said his political stances haven't changed and that is fine with the voters. "The issue is (among voters), we want tax relief and we know that you are a proven tax-cutter," he said.
Around this time last year, however, it seemed the clouds were gathering for a Republican Party battle.
In June 2007, the Washington, D.C., anti-tax group Citizens Club for Growth Political Action Committee launched a television ad against Jenkins saying that her record in the Legislature "is a litany of one tax hike after another."
Jenkins blamed Ryun, although Club for Growth said he had nothing to do with the ad. Last month, Ryun called for a clean campaign, to which Jenkins said, "It strikes me as kind of odd coming from a guy who already has had his Washington, D.C., buddies spend $120,000 distorting my record."