Washington President Bush will be in Kansas for a fundraiser today, but several of the state's top Republicans are skipping the event.
Both of the state's Republican senators are taking a pass, as are both GOP congressmen. They say the luncheon with Bush, whose popularity is at record lows, conflicts with prior commitments.
The fundraiser at a private home in Bucyrus, Kan., is expected to raise at least $420,000 for the state GOP and state Sen. Nick Jordan, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore in the 3rd Congressional District.
Sen. Pat Roberts will be in California on a long-standing trip to raise money for his own re-election bid, campaign spokeswoman Ashley McManus said. She said Roberts was proud to be named an honorary chairman of the fundraiser and "he was proud to be with the president three weeks ago in Greensburg."
Sen. Sam Brownback, also an honorary chairman of the luncheon, will be traveling in southwest Kansas on a portion of his 105-county tour. Brownback's schedule was set well before Bush's visit was announced, spokesman Brian Hart said.
Rep. Jerry Moran, a Republican who represents western Kansas, will be at another event in the state, while Wichita-area Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt plans to spend time with his family, spokeswomen for the lawmakers said.
Kansas Republican Party executive director Christian Morgan said he doesn't believe the president's poll numbers are an issue.
"If the president's popularity really had something to do with it, then they would have stayed away from even putting their names on something with the president," Morgan said. "I don't think its a case of them skipping this event, it's a case of them having scheduling difficulties, especially when this thing was thrown together pretty quickly."
Morgan said the diversity of state Republicans sponsoring the event - from former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker to former Rep. Jim Ryun - shows that the historically divided party is uniting behind Jordan.
Jordan spokesman Dustin Olson said close to 500 supporters would attend the event.
"This is an amazing amount of support that we're getting," Olson said. "I think people are tired of what they're seeing in Washington, D.C. They really want fresh faces and new blood and people who are actually willing to get stuff done."
There will be no press at the luncheon.
Moore, seeking re-election to a sixth term in Congress, has a better than 2-to-1 advantage over Jordan in fundraising, according to the latest campaign finance reports. He has repeatedly been targeted by the GOP in his Republican-leaning district, which includes Johnson, Wyandotte and portions of Douglas counties.