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7 in area advance toward Statehouse

Candidates faced off in seven races for state legislative seats in south-central Kansas.

82nd District

Political newcomer Jim Howell won the Republican primary with 48 percent of the vote.

"I'm overwhelmed right now," Howell said at his victory party at the Derby Recreation Center.

The retirement of longtime lawmaker Rep. Don Myers, R-Derby, sparked a three-way race between political newcomers vying in the Republican primary.

Although he supported Myers, Howell said, for the past eight years he thought about running for the seat.

"I was very, very serious about this ... somebody needs to stand up and be a conservative voice for our community."

His contenders were Spirit AeroSystems engineer Joseph Ashby, 28, and financial consultant Van A. Willis, 54, also both of Derby.

Howell, 46, tests the instrumentation on the Boeing 767.

Howell will face E.L. Lee Kinch, a Democratic national committeeman, in the November general election.

83rd District

Incumbent Rep. Jo Ann Pottorff, a Wichita Republican, won the primary by 5 percentage points over challenger Kyle Amos.

Amos, a recent college graduate, said, "We thought we had a good chance of winning ... but we're excited that a 23-year-old showed well against a 26-year incumbent."

Pottorff has held the seat since 1985 and has not faced a primary challenger in recent memory. She was the only Republican from the Wichita delegation to vote for the state's sales tax increase.

Amos tried to use that against her, Pottorff said after her victory.

Pottorff was confident. "I've been very calm all day long," she said.

Pottorff will face Democrat Sean Amore and Libertarian Gordon Bakken in the November election.

84th District

Democrat Gail Finney had an overwhelming win — with 87 percent of the vote — over Inga Taylor.

Finney, who has held the House seat for one term, said she hoped to focus on education and job creation.

Finney will face Republican Dan Heflin in November.

94th District

Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, won resoundingly in his race with two political newcomers.

McLeland took 62 percent of the vote.

He was opposed by neighborhood consumer lender Wade Waterbury and educator and wrestling coach Roy "Coach" Oeser. Waterbury had 15 percent of the vote; Oeser had 21 percent.

There is no Democratic contender.

96th District

First-time Wichita lawmaker Rep. Phil Hermanson, facing anti-abortion activist Mark Gietzen, won with 56 percent of the vote in the Republican primary.

Two years ago, Gietzen filed to run against real estate agent Hermanson for the 96th District. His goal at the time was to make Hermanson start campaigning, Gietzen said. While Gietzen spent no money and told people to vote for Hermanson, he still garnered 44.5 percent of the votes to Hermanson's 55.4 percent.

This year, Gietzen said he truly wanted to hold the seat and thought he could make changes in the Legislature.

Hermanson will face Democrat Brandon Whipple in the November general election.

Other races

In the 70th District in Chase, Marion and northern Butler counties, incumbent Republican Bob Brookens of Marion faced a challenge from Cheryl Green of Rosalia. Green was leading in early returns.

In the 116th District in Barber, Comanche, Kiowa and parts of Ford, Harper and Kingman counties, incumbent Democrat Patrick Maloney of Kingman faced a challenge from Rory Pugh of Harper. Maloney was leading in early returns.

The winner will face Republican Kyle Hoffman of Coldwater in November.

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