Holland leads by more than 600 votes in close race for state senate

photo by: AP File Photo

Kansas state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, talks to reporters, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Sen. Tom Holland was poised to narrowly fend off a conservative challenger on Tuesday to maintain his seat and ensure that Lawrence retains a second Democratic senator in the Kansas Legislature.

Holland, D-Baldwin City, was ahead of veteran legislator Willie Dove by 627 votes as unofficial totals were posted late Tuesday night. If the results stand, Holland will win his fourth term to represent Kansas Senate District 3, which represents southern Lawrence, Baldwin City, Eudora and parts of Leavenworth County.

However, final results could still change as 1,000 to 2,000 more votes may be left to count in Douglas and Leavenworth counties as mail ballots are still arriving and some advance ballots still must be counted.

As Tuesday night ended, however, Holland was ahead of Dove, R-Bonner Springs, by a margin of 51% to 49%. Holland had 19,505 votes, while Dove had 18,878.

“They are always close races here,” Holland said. “It is just a good, very competitive district.”

It also is a district of two distinct counties. If Holland’s lead holds it will be because he racked up big margins with Douglas County voters. Holland won 64% of the vote in Douglas County. If Dove ends up prevailing, it will be because he garnered equally big margins in Leavenworth County. He won 64% of the vote in that county, which includes the cities of Tonganoxie, Basehor and part of Dove’s home town of Bonner Springs.

Holland said late Tuesday that he thinks his past voting record helped persuade just enough voters to carry him to the finish line. He touted work he has done to create a property tax rebate program for lower income seniors and efforts to get medical marijuana laws approved in Kansas.

“I would hope that voters would like me for supporting programs that really do try to help people,” Holland said.

Dove has served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 2013, representing parts of Johnson and Leavenworth counties. While the Senate District No. 3 includes large amounts of registered Democrats in Lawrence, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the outlying parts of Douglas County and in Leavenworth County.

If the results stand for Holland, who was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, they would ensure that both of Lawrence’s senate districts remain in Democratic hands. Sen. Marci Francisco did not face a Republican challenger in Tuesday’s election.

Holland, an IT consultant and small business owner, said priorities for his next term in office will include winning final approval for his property tax rebate program. As it currently is structured, the program would freeze property taxes for homeowners 65 and older if their incomes are below $50,000 and their home’s property value is below $350,000, although Holland said some of those details may change as the legislation progresses. He said he also would continue to work to pass medical marijuana legislation.

As for the remaining votes to be counted in the race, Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said he expects to release updated vote totals on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. As long as mail ballots are postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 3, state law allows them to be counted through Friday.

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