Rep. Roger Marshall withstood an onslaught of Democratic campaign spending to win the Republican nomination Tuesday for the Kansas Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts.
A liberal group, the Sunflower State PAC, poured more than $5 million into the race in a bid to keep Marshall from winning the nomination.
Democrats felt they had a chance of grabbing the seat if Republicans nominated the more controversial Kris Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state known for promoting hard-line immigration policies around the country.
In the end, Marshall jumped out to a solid lead in the 11-person field when the vote counting started and held his margin through the evening. The Associated Press declared Marshall the winner shortly after 9 p.m. CDT.
President Donald Trump declined GOP appeals to endorse Marshall ahead of the primary, but tweeted a message of support on Wednesday: "A great race run by Roger against a very tough and smart opponent. Roger loves Kansas and will represent it incredibly well. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement. Will be a Big Win on November 3rd. This is not the opponent the Democrats wanted!"
Barbara Bollier, a state senator and retired anesthesiologist who left the GOP in 2018, easily won the Democratic nomination. Bollier said she left the Republican Party in part because of her objections to President Donald Trump’s leadership but also because of Republican stances on social issues, including transgender rights.
Marshall is a doctor as well, having practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Great Bend, Kan., before getting elected to the House in 2016.
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Establishment Republicans feared a Kobach win would cost them the seat, hence the appeals to Trump to come to the defense of Marshall, who had the backing of the Kansas Farm Bureau as well as Roberts and Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader and longtime Kansas senator.
Kobach ran on a populist agenda that included criticism of meatpackers and support for mandatory country-of-origin labeling on meat. Kobach criticized Congress for repealing the labeling law after the World Trade Organization ruled against it, and he also endorsed a bill requiring meatpackers to buy at least 50% of their livestock on the open or spot market.
Kobach said he would also support moving more Agriculture Department employees to the Kansas City area.
The state’s other senator, Jerry Moran, stayed neutral in the race.
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