Dave Helling | Coast is clear for Yoder in Kansas’ 3rd District

06/12/2012 5:00 AM

05/16/2014 6:44 PM

How about this: No Democrat will challenge U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District this fall.

Just two years after he beat Democrat Stephene Moore — whose husband, Dennis, held the seat for more than a decade — the 36-year-old Yoder can now stand on his $1 million campaign fund to re-measure the drapes in his Washington office.

Democrats thought they had someone to take Yoder on, but came up short.

“I recruited and recruited,” party chairwoman Joan Wagnon said Monday. “(Yoder) sitting there with a million bucks did not go unnoticed.”

Yoder will have third-party opposition in November, apparently — Joel Balam is running on the Libertarian ticket, while Joy Holt will carry the Reform Party banner. It’s hard to imagine either has a prayer.

Wagnon said Democrats will have somebody to test Yoder in 2014. Feel free to be skeptical.

He’ll still have that $1 million or more, of course, but more importantly the new court-drawn congressional map makes it harder for a Democrat to compete in the district. All the Lawrence Democrats were carved out.

“Congressman for life!” one Republican gleefully emailed after the map came out.

That may be a stretch. The map will change again in 2022, and a decade offers plenty of opportunity for political missteps. And even if the redrawn 3rd District had existed in 2008, early analysis shows, it would have gone for Barack Obama.

But the giddy Republican has a point: The bar


been raised for Democrats in the district. Unlike Larry Winn and Jan Meyers, two predecessors who also waltzed unopposed to re-election, Yoder is doing the cat daddy into a second term as a youngster. That opens the distinct possibility of a 30- or 40-year House career if he wants one.

The Kansas City area hasn’t had such a long-tenured congressman since Democrat Richard Bolling, whose 34-year career carried him close to the pinnacle of power in the House — and helped him protect projects close to the hearts of his constituents.

Still, it seems a shame Yoder won’t face many tough questions in his first re-election campaign.

In Missouri’s 4th District, on the other hand, freshman Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler will face a challenge from prosecutor Teresa Hensley. No matter how that race turns out, voters in the 4th should get a quality look at different approaches to the extraordinarily difficult problems we face.

Kansans in the new 3rd won’t get that chance.

There are whispers of an independent challenge to Yoder, but it’s a long shot. It would take about 20,000 valid petition signatures by Aug. 6, and Yoder would


have that $1 million.

So: Breaking news. We can project Kevin Yoder the winner in the 2012 Kansas 3rd District House race.

How about that?


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