Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And then there were two...

Last week's Hutchinson News article nicely defined where the first district race is to this point with first, second and third tier candidates. Now, I don't believe a campaign can be judged solely on fundraising as there are a lot of factors that play into a successful campaign. (And you know I really mean that since my guy is pretty much mopping the floor in that area.) But I do think in an off election year (yes, this is an off election year, despite what you've heard in the news), fundraising is the only tangible measurement of a candidates potential success.

As the Hutch News article points out, the race is quickly becoming a two man battle between moderate backed Jim Barnett and conservative Tim Huelskamp. This shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone since they are the only two in the race with a voting record to back up their rhetoric (or lack thereof in Barnett's case), and the local connections needed to compete. What has been surprising is the failure of the second and third tier candidates.

Tracey Mann looked somewhat promising as a new moderate contender. This is looking less and less likely with Jim Barnett in the picture, backed by Morris, Vratil and Schmidt. I think originally Tim Barker was the mods guy, but with him out and Barnett in, there just isn't much room for Mann campaign. It also appears this past quarter that his fundraising is beginning to suffer after tapping out his family connections. Further, I'm sure endorsing Jim Slattery over Pat Roberts will certainly be noted by the Barnett campaign if the situation should warrant it.

Rob Wasinger continues to sputter in first district support. After two consecutive quarterly reports without a single itemized contribution from the first district, (a stretch that has to be unprecedented, although I know of no way to verify this), his October finance report showed he actually took in less in first district and Kansas contributions than last quarter. Only 5.9% of his total contributions have come from the district he wants to represent.

As What's Right With Kansas pointed out, Dennis Moore seems to be having local support problems, relying heavily on D.C. PAC contributions and receiving less and less individual contributions from everyday Kansans. Wasinger doesn't seem able to shake this problem either. I wholeheartedly agree with RWKS that voters seem to be following the DC insider money and voting with their pocketbook. And of course, a $2,500 contribution from John McCain's PAC certainly doesn't help the conservative cred, so it looks as though this will keep the first district in a two man race.

Huelskamp continues to build support. Most notable to is the endorsement by Club for Growth, one of the nation's premiere fiscal conservative organizations. Interestingly, Club for Growth has been a major force in New York's 23rd congressional district's special election, supporting the Conservative Party's nominee over the liberal GOP nominee. More on the similarities between NY-23 and KS-01 later.

Now, there's certainly still time for another candidate to get into the race, although by this time any Republican who announces is just looking for a meal ticket. With the mod squad behind Barnett, I'm sure the other mods in the race will be spoken with and quietly asked to exit stage left. There will be more than two names on the ballot come August, but for all intensive purposes, this has become a two man race.