Republican Jenkins re-elected in Kansas 2nd District

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins

Margie Wakefield

Lynn Jenkins, Margie Wakefield

? Republican incumbent Lynn Jenkins will serve a fourth term in Congress after handily defeating her Democratic challenger, Lawrence resident Margie Wakefield, in the 2nd District U.S. House race.

Celebrating her victory Tuesday night in Topeka, Jenkins vowed to continue to work to find solutions to get the country back to work and get the economy healthy again.

“Washington is broken, and we have a lot of work to do starting tomorrow,” she said. “But I think that Kansans recognize the difference between the folks that are there trying to solve the problem and those that aren’t.”

Jenkins, 51, of Topeka, has touted her experience as a Certified Public Accountant throughout her campaign. She’s spent six years in Congress, four years as state treasurer and four years before that in the Kansas Legislature. She currently is vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

This was the first run for public office by Wakefield, 56, an attorney who runs her own practice with a focus on family law.

Jenkins was elected to Congress in 2008 when she defeated Democrat Nancy Boyda. In three terms, she rose through the party ranks to become vice chair of the House GOP conference.

But that put Jenkins squarely in the middle of the action last year during a budget showdown with Democrats and President Barack Obama, which led to an unpopular 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government.

Wakefield used that issue to attack Jenkins by casting her as part of the source of the partisan gridlock in Washington, and there were early indicators this year that the 2nd District race could be close.

In addition to being linked with the House Republican leadership, polls showed that in the 2nd District, which tilts more heavily toward Democratic and unaffiliated voters than the rest of the state, Jenkins was also being pulled down by the unpopularity of fellow Republicans Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts.

According to the political news site Politico, House GOP leaders in October put out a call for rank-and-file members to write checks to buoy Jenkins’ struggling campaign.

Meanwhile, Wakefield showed a surprising fundraising ability of her own, especially in a year when most of the Democratic money was going to the gubernatorial candidate, Paul Davis.

According to campaign finance reports, Wakefield took in more than $720,000 in contributions since January, more than three times as much as the last Democratic challenger, Tobias Schlingensiepen.

But Wakefield could not keep pace in spending with Jenkins, who came into the race with a hefty campaign war chest to begin with. She spent more than $1.7 million on the campaign – more than twice what Wakefield had raised – enabling her to dominate the airwaves in the final weeks of the campaign.