Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas coasted to a second term in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
The Associated Press called the race for Moran a little after 8 p.m. Central time.
Moran’s Democratic challenger, Lawrence attorney Patrick Wiesner, never posed much of a threat. He raised $35,000 compared with Moran’s $6.6 million and struggled to top 30 percent in pre-election polls.
But Moran, a 62-year-old lawmaker from Plainville, may return to a different Congress. As he celebrated his win at the Overland Park Marriott in Johnson County on Tuesday, it still was not clear whether his party would keep its majority in the U.S. Senate.
Democrats have to pick up at least four seats in the Senate to take the reins back from Republicans.
Two years ago, Moran played an instrumental role in wresting control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats. Chosen by his peers to be chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2012, he helped recruit and fundraise for GOP Senate candidates running in the 2014 midterm elections.
Taking on the high-profile, high-pressure position at the head of the GOP’s campaign arm in the Senate was an uncharacteristic gamble for Moran, who has a reputation for being risk averse. But it paid off. Republicans picked up nine seats and took power in the Senate.
Moran sits on the powerful appropriations committee in the Senate, which sets federal spending levels. He also is chairman of an appropriations subcommittee in charge of agriculture funding, and has spots on other Senate panels that oversee commerce, transportation, banking and veterans affairs.
Moran was first elected to Congress in 1996, when he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The campaign focused largely on federal budget and spending issues.
Wiesner, a hard-core deficit hawk, cast himself as more fiscally conservative than Moran.
He said he was a “get-us-out-of-debt” candidate who wanted to “pay off our national debt and do it before us baby boomers all die.”
Moran also called for an end to deficit spending, but said he wants to have a national conversation about what services people expect from the federal government and how much they’re willing to pay for them.
He also argued to rein in regulation of business “so the economy can grow and help pay down the debt.”
Garrard, an electronic technician, primarily represented the Libertarian Party’s standard platform favoring limited government involvement in business and social issues.