In the GOP Senate race between two Kansas congressmen, Jerry Moran now has a $2 million cash advantage.
The Hays Republican also raised about $179,000 more than Rep. Todd Tiahrt, of Goddard, in contributions during the most recent fundraising period, as each campaign released its numbers last week.
But political pundits say it’s too early to anoint Moran as a lock to win the August 2010 primary in the heavyweight race to try and replace Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor next year.
“By no means is the race over. Primaries are dicey,” said Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political science associate professor. “Obviously, it’s good to have enough money to run a campaign, but often strategy is more important than money.”
How the campaigns are organized will be key in the race, and Beatty said as long as Tiahrt is able to raise enough money to execute his strategy, it should still be a competitive race in coming months.
“Tiahrt does have to have enough money to be able to combat any contrast or negative ads if Moran were to run some,” he said.
Tiahrt’s numbers also aren’t dismal, Beatty said, at this early stage in the game because so many voters are still undecided. Moran had a 16-point lead in recent Survey USA poll of 475 likely GOP voters in the state, but 30 percent of voters had not yet made up their minds.
Tiahrt also raised more than $300,000 last period.
“We’re not talking chicken feed here. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Beatty said.
Joe Aistrup, a Kansas State University political science professor, said campaign contributions are like a futures market for donors who are most active in politics.
“There are more people betting that’s he’s going to win, so this is good news for Jerry Moran,” Aistrup said.
Moran likely benefited from his visibility in the state and his frequent appearances outside of his House district, he said, which includes most of central and western Kansas. Both candidates have campaigned quite a bit in Republican-heavy Johnson County in recent months.
Aistrup said the race is still likely up for grabs.
“Money doesn’t always predict the outcome of primary election battles. It’s very important to point that out,” he said.