Republicans in conservative mood

After a primary season unique for how much money was spent and mud was slung, Tuesday's election results seemed to confirm that, at least in August, Kansas Republicans like to choose between primary candidates who are conservative and more conservative.

No surprise that GOP primary voters anointed two-term Sen. Sam Brownback the party's nominee for governor. He and running mate state Sen. Jeff Colyer now face the long-shot Democratic ticket of state Sens. Tom Holland and Kelly Kultala in November. In the process, Kansans should start pressing Brownback on his priorities, especially what he would cut and how he would promote education and economic growth.

The real action was always in the GOP primary to replace Brownback, with Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt having shape-shifted before Kansans' eyes from longtime House brethren into bitter foes. The returns were tight all night and the results unclear at the deadline for this editorial. But either way, Kansas Republicans will get a conservative.

And Democratic primary winner Lisa Johnston should enjoy victory now, because there is no reason to think she will end the longest-winning streak (72 years in GOP hands) in the U.S. Senate.

In the 1st and 4th congressional districts, where open seats and contentious primaries are unfamiliar, Republicans went, respectively, with a name they knew well, state Sen. Tim Huelskamp, and one they have come to know, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo.

The biggest surprises were in how state Sen. Jean Schodorf surged at the end and how businessman Wink Hartman faded, despite having deluged the airwaves with ads and spent more than $1 million of his own money.

And at least in the 4th District, the suspense isn't over yet: The Democratic primary winner, state Rep. Ray Goyle of Wichita, has a sizable fundraising lead over Pompeo.

Meanwhile, voters predictably set up a competitive contest for the Secretary of State's Office, with headline-grabbing immigration lawyer Kris Kobach facing off against appointed Secretary of State Chris Biggs. This dull job may never seem as exciting as it will this fall, as the candidates argue over Kobach's contention that people (meaning illegal immigrants) are fraudulently voting in droves in Kansas.

Republicans also set up a good race for Kansas attorney general, with Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt challenging incumbent Steve Six, and they sensibly gave standout Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger a third term.

In Sedgwick County, voters will decide whether to dramatically reshape their County Commission, with Wichita City Council member Jim Skelton and Wichita school board member Betty Arnold emerging Tuesday to challenge incumbents, and conservative Richard Ranzau and state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau set to compete for an open seat.

Overall, many Kansans found their ballot choices pretty limited. Of the 125 Kansas House seats, only 36 saw contested primaries statewide; in Sedgwick County, only five did. And for the first time in 24 years, none of the eight Sedgwick County District Court judges whose terms were up drew opposition for either the primary or general election.

The local voters who got out in Tuesday's record 109 degrees to cast ballots deserve praise and respect. Now, all Kansans can hope for more respectful and substantive campaigns this fall than they endured this summer.