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Kansas Primary Preview: Revenge of the Moderates?

Kansas may be one of the country's "reddest" states, but a bit of a moderate backlash may be in the offing in the state's primary election races this week.

Most of the focus is down ballot -- specifically, the state school board races. Last year in a controversial 6-4 vote, the board changed science standards in Kansas public schools to allow the teaching of scientific theories that cast doubts about evolution. The ruling was a victory for proponents of intelligent design theory, which holds that life is so complex it cannot be explained by evolution alone.

Three out of the six members of the board who approved the policy are up for reelection this year. All three members face moderate Republican challengers in the primary who have vowed to reverse the intelligent design ruling, and Democrats are contesting the seats regardless of the GOP primary results. Moderates would need to win two out of the three seats to overturn the evolution ruling. The Kansas City Star noted that moderates are also upset by the board's actions on sex education and its hiring of an education commissioner with no experience in the field.

At the top of the ballot, seven Republicans are competing to challenge popular Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D); the frontrunners are state Sen. Jim Barnett, former Kansas House Speaker Robin Jennison, and Ken Canfield, the author and founder of the Kansas-based National Center on Fathering. Sebelius may not have much to worry about, as she has a large fundraising advantage and high approval ratings.

The secretary of state race features competitive primaries in both parties. On the Republican side, Eric Carter and Sandy Praeger are vying for the GOP nomination. For Democrats, voters will choose between Robert Beattie or David Haley.

Finally, a competitive congressional primary is taking place in the state's 3rd District. Democrat Rep. Dennis Moore has held the seat for four consecutive terms; he will face either Chuck Ahner or state Rep. Scott Schwab in the general election.

Check back on Wednesday for Kansas primary results.

-- Katherine Deming, washingtonpost.com

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  July 31, 2006; 5:42 PM ET
Categories:  Governors , House  
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