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Government shutdown produces automated calls from Democratic Party group targeting Jenkins, Yoder

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday launched automated phone calls in the 2nd congressional district blaming U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, for helping shut down the federal government.

The campaign asks Kansans to call Jenkins to tell her to end the shutdown.

The call says: "While you were sleeping, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins shut down the government. You heard that right. But even worse — Congresswoman Jenkins is still getting paid — and she's not listening to our frustration. All because of her demand to take away your benefits and protect insurance company profits."

Jenkins, whose district includes Lawrence, has voted for bills to fund government but only if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or key parts of it delayed. She has blamed Democrats for failing to approve the bill. And Jenkins has asked that her pay be withheld until the government is operating again.

The DCCC has also launched similar automated calls against U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park.

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What is more unpopular: Congress or Obamacare?

Right out of the chute, it appears the 2014 campaign for U.S. House District 2 will be a contest to determine which is more unpopular: Congress or Obamacare.

Earlier this week, Democrat Margie Wakefield, of Lawrence, announced she is contemplating a run against three-term incumbent Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka.

In her release, Wakefield said, “People perceive that the system is broken. I find it unconscionable that Congress continues to ignore the serious and complex issues facing our nation."

In response to Wakefield's announcement, Bill Roe, a spokesman for Jenkins, put out a release saying that Wakefield "hearts Obamacare," which is the federal health care overhaul called Affordable Care Act.

When asked what he meant, Roe said he was referring to a "like" on Wakefield's Facebook page of an internet link to get a free "I (heart symbol) Obamacare" sticker.

Roe added, "Congresswoman Jenkins' opposition to that legislation is consistent with public opinion of 2nd District residents and that has been reflected at the ballot box."

Wakefield responded, saying, "The health care law is not perfect, but when I’m elected to Congress I will work to fix it. Lynn Jenkins has no interest in fixing it, just scoring political points.”

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Kansas congressional officials announce federal grant to build new school

U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, and U.S. Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Lynn Jenkins, all of Kansas, rallied around approval of a $35.2 million federal grant to build a new middle school at Fort Riley. The grant was awarded as part of the Department of Defense Installations and Environment fund, according to a release from Roberts' office.

The Geary County school district will match a portion of the funding, $6.7 million, for a total of $41.9 million to demolish and build the new middle school on post.

The school’s groundbreaking is expected Jan. 22 with doors opening in 2014. The school will hold roughly 700 students.

"Last year, I toured the school, and it was clear it was in need of modernization and we had to address the overcrowding," Roberts said. "Men and women in uniform who protect and defend our nation, should not have to worry about the quality of the schools where they send their children,” he said.

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Moran, Jenkins elected to leadership Republican positions

Two members of the Kansas congressional delegation won leadership positions on Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican, was elected to serve as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, was elected vice chair of the House Republican Conference.

Moran will be responsible for recruiting GOP Senate candidates and helping them raise campaign funds.

Jenkins, who just won re-election to a third term, will be part of the Republican leadership team, advancing the party's agenda.

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Jenkins touts tax reform

President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said today that one of the first post-election orders of business is to reach a deal to reduce the nation's debt.

Boehner offered to pursue a deal with Obama, who won a second term on Tuesday, that would include higher revenues as part of a revamped tax code that reduced rates for all, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, said as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, she was ready to work on overhauling the tax code.

"Tax reform will raise revenue, reduce the $1 trillion in spending through the tax code, make the code more fair, efficient, and easier to comply with, and encourage job creation," said Jenkins, who also won re-election last night to represent the district that includes all of Douglas County.

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After all that, little change in the Kansas Legislature; Obama takes Douglas County; Schlingensiepen does well in Lawrence, Topeka; and Obamacare decision awaits Brownback

Some of the faces in the Kansas Legislature will change, but after all the campaigning, outside money, and unprecedented redistricting, last night's election kept Republican-Democratic margins the same as before: the House at 92-33 Republican and the Senate 32-8 Republican.

It's possible those numbers could change slightly after recounts.

Several longtime House members were defeated including Democrats Eber Phelps from Hays, Bill Feuerborn from Garnett, Geraldine Flaharty from Wichita, and Republicans Mike Burgess from Topeka and Brenda Landwehr from Wichita.

State Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, lost in his attempt to gain a Senate seat, and two Wyandotte County senators fell, Democrat Kelly Kultala and Republican Chris Steineger.

And while the Republican/Democratic numbers hold steady, conservative Republicans own a majority of the GOP caucus in the Senate after a slew of moderate Republicans were swept out in the August primary.

In the presidential race, Kansas went solidly for Republican Mitt Romney with only Douglas and Wyandotte counties giving majorities to President Barack Obama.

In the 2nd Congressional District race, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, won a third term against Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen 57 percent to 39 percent. But if the district comprised only its two largest counties — Shawnee and Douglas — Schlingensiepen would have won.

Schlingensiepen outpaced Jenkins in Douglas County 56 percent to 40 percent, and Shawnee County, 49 percent to 47 percent.

But the counties surrounding Douglas County went bigtime for Jenkins, as did the counties in southeast Kansas.

Now that the election is over, a major question for Gov. Sam Brownback is how Kansas will respond to a Nov. 16 deadline under the Affordable Care Act to decide whether the state will partner in running a health insurance exchange or leave it to the feds. Asked this morning, the governor's office said they would get an answer on that soon.

UPDATE: Governor's office didn't provide a statement by end of day, but Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who has wanted the state to do its own exchange, issued this comment: “We will be reaching out to the governor to discuss choices about an exchange—whether it could go forward as a state/federal partnership or whether it could be a federal exchange. We look forward to having that discussion soon, since the deadline for the decision is set for Nov. 16.”

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