House majority leader says 2nd Boyda win tough but possible

? U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Wednesday acknowledged that U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Topeka, faces a tough re-election challenge but said she can do it.

“She is a perfect person to be re-elected in this district,” said Hoyer, who attended a fundraiser for Boyda and appeared at a joint news conference with her at Topeka High School.

National and state Republicans have targeted the 2nd congressional district, which includes part of Lawrence, to take back after Boyda’s upset victory in November against five-term incumbent Jim Ryun. The GOP regularly issues news releases attacking Boyda.

“She is certainly in the cross-hairs,” said Bob Beatty, a political science professor from Washburn University.

Ryun, of Lawrence, and state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, of Topeka, are vying for the Republican nomination to face Boyda in 2008.

Boyda can win in the mostly Republican district if voters see her as a representative and not just a Democratic officeholder, Beatty said.

Beatty said Boyda has models in Kansas to follow to achieve that – U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, two Democrats and a Republican who are able to lure opposite party votes and independents.

Hoyer compared Boyda to another congresswoman: U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., who defeated an incumbent Republican in 2004 and was thought to be vulnerable in 2006. But she won again.

He said Boyda is similar to Bean in that she is moderate and reaches out to Republicans.

“I think that is what Kansans want,” he said.