Democratic candidates emerge

TOPEKA — Prominent Kansas Democrats talked up retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore's wife Saturday as a potential successor for him in the state's 3rd Congressional District.

Stephene Moore was among a handful of candidates or potential congressional candidates to emerge during the Kansas Democratic Party's annual Washington Days convention.

Dennis Moore's decision not to run again had made Democrats' election prospects gloomier. He's held his seat since 1999 by successfully wooing moderate Republicans in the GOP-leaning district in the Kansas City area.

He strongly hinted during a luncheon speech that his wife is considering a run, telling about 400 fellow Democrats, "Stay tuned."

And state party Chairman Larry Gates said, "I think she's possibly on the list."

But Stephene Moore, 56, a registered nurse, declined to comment about her plans.

"I've not made any decisions on anything," she said.

Seven Republicans are running for their party's 3rd District nomination in the Aug. 3 primary.

Another Democrat, Overland Park railroad engineer Lee Jones, said he's strongly considering the race and will announce his decision within a month. Jones, 58, ran unsuccessfully for the 3rd District seat in 1990 and for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and 2008.

But a potential Stephene Moore candidacy had Democrats buzzing. The Legislature's Democratic leaders, Sen. Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, and Rep. Paul Davis, of Lawrence, were enthusiastic about the idea, as was Steve Wright, the party's 3rd District chairman.

"She'd be an excellent, absolutely fantastic candidate," Wright said.

Ashley McMillan, the Kansas Republican Party's executive director, was skeptical. She said Dennis Moore has alienated voters by aligning himself too closely with President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on issues such as health care.

"You can expect the same thing with Stephene Moore," she said.

In the 2nd District of eastern Kansas, Cheryl Hudspeth, of Girard, said Saturday that she's seeking the Democratic nomination. Hudspeth, 56, had worked in banking and economic development but has been taking care of her husband for several years following an auto accident. She'll challenge freshman Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins.