With Nick Jordan out of Kansas' 3rd District race for Congress, fellow Republican Kevin Yoder has emerged as a near-consensus favorite to win the GOP nomination.
Jordan, the unsuccessful 2008 nominee, surprised Republicans with his decision Thursday to end his campaign.
The winner of the Aug. 3 primary is expected to face Democrat Stephene Moore, wife of incumbent Dennis Moore, in November.
Moderate and some conservative Republicans expressed confidence that the party would unify behind Yoder, 34, a Kansas House member from Overland Park who is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. His fundraising far outpaces the field, which still includes seven other GOP candidates.
Dennis Moore has held the seat for nearly 12 years, and his foes said they are more eager to repossess it than to fight among themselves.
"With so many candidates," Jordan said, "I fear we could provide an opening for our liberal congressman's liberal wife to sneak into office in his place."
"It's all over but the crying," said conservative state Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican who'd backed Jordan.
"It changes everything," Andy Wollen, chairman of the moderate Kansas Traditional Republican Majority.
Yoder said the "party's focus is 'lasered in' to defeating Stephene Moore in November and returning a Republican vote to Washington."
Jordan, 60, said he would not endorse any candidate.
That was interpreted by Larry Gates, the Kansas Democratic chairman, as a sign of "lingering divisions" that "continue to threaten" GOP unity.
Gates said "pushing out" Jordan was a sign of worry over Stephene Moore's momentum.
Jordan insisted he wasn't shoved, although insiders have talked for months about a desire by all-but-certain GOP gubernatorial nominee Sam Brownback to clear the ballot of contested primaries.