With less than a month before the primary, polls show the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Kansas too close to call, and on the surface so, too, are the differences between the candidates Reps. Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran.
Yet Tiahrt has the support of virtually every conservative leader in America—from Sarah Palin to Karl Rove, from Bill Bennett to Steve Forbes, from Sean Hannity to Mark Levin.
“Tiahrt knows what issues are important to us,” explains American Conservative Union President David Keene whose ACU index shows Tiahrt and Moran not that far apart. “Tiahrt not only votes right, when something is important he’s been on the House floor or in committee battling for our causes.”
Cases in point:
- Tiahrt has never once voted to increase federal taxes. But Moran voted against elements of the George W. Bush tax cuts.
- Moran voted against authorizing military tribunals to try suspected terrorists and against Bush’s efforts to wiretap suspected foreign terrorists communicating within the U.S. On the other hand, Tiafrt led the charge within the House Appropriations Committee to block Obama from moving detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. mainland.
- Moran voted for federal legislation that effectively removes requirements for citizenship verification for those receiving government health care.
Such votes explain why one voting index shows a stark difference between the two Republicans who seeking the seat presently held by the retiring Sen. Sam Brownback. Brownback is currently leading in his campaign to become the state's governor. Moran’s lifetime ACLU index is better than four times more favorable than that of Tiahrt.
Moran started the primary competition with a decided lead. His geographically massive district is the state’s most Republican territory—and Moran is known as a tireless campaigner.
Each year, he has recorded better than 5,000 miles of travel in his district. He also has the endorsement of the Kansas Farm Bureau because Moran wants to end the U.S.trade embargo with Castro’s Cuba.
But as the August 3 primary balloting approaches, Tiahrt has closed the gap as he demonstrates he is the conservative choice for Kansas Republicans.
And herein lies the factor that leads handicappers to give Tiahrt a real shot at the nomination.
Using a massive corps of religious volunteers, Tiahrt won his Wichita-based congressional district in 1994 in an upset over Rep. Dan Glickman who would go on to be the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Agriculture and later one of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists.
The Almanac of American Politics wrote of that campaign: “Glickman ran relatively well, as he had for years, in high income Republican precincts, but he suffered unexpectedly serious losses in middle-income areas in Wichita and Sedgwick County.”
If Tiahrt repeats that performance—utilizing his tea party supporters—he will take down Moran.
Kenneth Tomlinson is the former editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest.