Some Republicans waged their primary battles as contests over who is most conservative. Now, some Democrats are framing their general-election campaigns as debates about who is most moderate.
That's based on comments made in Wichita on Saturday by Democratic candidates and supporters at the annual Kansas Democratic rally known as Demofest.
Gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland and congressional candidate Raj Goyle began their Demofest day by campaigning door to door in the Riverside neighborhood for about an hour.
As he paused outside one house, Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, said that Kansas has a record of choosing "moderate, progressive" governors. He then said of his Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback: "He's anything but a moderate. He's an extremist."
Asked if she wanted to respond, Brownback campaign spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said: "Senator Brownback is honored to have been chosen three times to represent the interests of all Kansans. He is working hard every day to win their support for his road map for Kansas that contains real solutions to the problems we all care about."
At Demofest, held at the Hyatt in downtown Wichita, state Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, said, "I think the nice thing about Kansas is we've had independent thinking," including moderate Republicans willing to cross party lines.
In the race for governor, she said, some GOP moderates don't support Brownback, "and I think they're becoming more public about that."
Later in the day, Goyle spokeswoman Laura Vest said he describes himself as "a fiscal conservative and a social moderate." Goyle, a state representative from Wichita, is running against Republican Mike Pompeo for the 4th District seat being left by Todd Tiahrt.
After his primary victory, Goyle said, "The battle for the moderate majority is on."
While noting how Republicans ran to the right during the primary, Goyle campaign manager Kiel Brunner said Goyle and other Democrats espouse moderate values such as keeping jobs in Kansas and closing tax loopholes that allow companies to move jobs overseas.
State treasurer Dennis McKinney, who is facing Republican Ron Estes of Wichita, said Democrats will have an uphill battle in many of the races in a Republican-dominated state. But he said Democratic candidates have track records that match some attributes Republicans have espoused — experience in business and tough stances on taxes and crime.
McKinney said that Attorney General Steve Six — who is facing Republican state Sen. Derek Schmidt —has demonstrated he can fight crime: "He's personally prosecuted murder cases."
McKinney said Holland has been successful as a small- business owner.
Democrats "understand the cost of taxes first-hand ... while often we're portrayed as the big taxers," he said.
"People like myself and Tom Holland pay business taxes ... and understand the need to have the right balance between safe streets and good schools and reasonable taxes."