Former Kansas Sen. Nick Jordan, R-Shawnee, announced Thursday morning he will bow out of the GOP race for the 3rd District House seat to avoid a contentious primary.
The 2008 Republican nominee's exit from the congressional race also comes after rival Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder, of Overland Park, had gained a fundraising edge since the beginning of the year.
The race for the open seat changed shape recently when Stephene Moore, the wife of retiring Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Lenexa, announced she would seek the Democratic nomination to try to replace her husband.
In his statement to supporters, Jordan mentioned his opposition to President Barack Obama's health care reform plan and other policies as reasons he decide to re-enter the race last November.
"This makes the stakes incredibly high in this year's elections. Yet with so many candidates in the Republican primary for the U.S. House of Representatives, I fear we could provide an opening for our liberal congressman's liberal wife to sneak into office in his place," Jordan said.
The 3rd district includes eastern Lawrence and Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
Several other GOP candidates, including former state Rep. Patricia Lightner of Olathe, were in the race before Dennis Moore announced his retirement late last year, but pundits regarded Yoder, chairman of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee, and Jordan as the GOP front-runners.
According to Federal Election Commission records, Yoder's campaign ended the first quarter with $478,000 in the bank compared to Jordan's $180,000. Congressional Quarterly also shifted the race back to a "tossup" after Stephene Moore announced her candidacy.
In his letter to supporters Jordan said he did not intend to make an endorsement in the GOP primary.
In a statement Yoder praised Jordan’s political career.
“I have great respect for Nick Jordan's impressive record of public service to the citizens of Kansans," he said. "The Republican Party owes a debt of gratitude to Nick for his part in fighting against Dennis Moore and Nancy Pelosi's liberal agendas.
“It is time that Republicans unite to defeat the destructive policies of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and congressional liberals. As we work towards victory in November, my campaign will continue to focus on fiscal discipline, cutting wasteful spending and creating private sector jobs."
The Kansas Democratic Party chairman said Jordan’s decision meant GOP leaders pushed him out of the race because they were concerned about Stephene Moore’s momentum.
“However, Nick Jordan’s adamant refusal to make an endorsement reveals lingering divisions within the Kansas Republican Party that continue threaten the unity of their party,” Democratic chairman Larry Gates said in a statement. “Stephene Moore has broad support from Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans who want Kansas to continue to have a moderate, fiscally responsible voice in Congress.”