Moran needs to step it up in Senate

With Jerry Moran's victory Tuesday over Todd Tiahrt, Kansans almost certainly identified the state's new junior senator.

Yes, Moran has a few things left to do before changing chambers, including win the Nov. 2 general election. But Democratic nominee Lisa Johnston, Libertarian candidate Michael Dann and Reform candidate Joseph K. Bellis don't pose much of a threat to Moran in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic U.S. senator in 78 years and that went into the primary with voter registration at 45 percent Republican, 30 percent unaffiliated and the rest Democratic.

Does it matter that Moran and Tiahrt differed on almost nothing, except which was more conservative and deserving of the Senate seat being vacated by Sam Brownback? Or that flipping a coin could have saved $7 million and produced a similar result — promoting a conservative, long-serving congressman to the Senate?

Perhaps not to most Kansans. It certainly mattered to Moran and Tiahrt, though.

And in the end, voters narrowly went with Moran, who is sure to be conservative, pragmatic, hardworking and well-liked — the same as during his 13 years representing the "Big First" District in Congress and eight years in the Kansas Senate.

Tiahrt has been an effective 4th District congressman and will be missed on the House Appropriations Committee, where he championed many Wichita causes. He tried to "ride toward the sound of the guns," to use one of his favored phrases, and nearly rode his conservative credentials and celebrity endorsements to an upset.

One concern for The Eagle editorial board remains Moran's tendency toward indecision and passivity. As Moran moves from the House seat once held by Bob Dole to the Senate seat once held by Dole, Kansans can hope Moran will pick up and try out some of the longtime Senate majority leader's masterly skills for consensus building and agenda setting.

For many Kansans it will be hard to shake off the muck of this campaign, with its charges and countercharges over old votes and arguments about which candidate most loathes terrorists, illegal immigrants and "Obamacare." In the Senate race and otherwise, the summer's casualties included civility and truth.

The volume of campaign ads, mailings and robocalls raised expectations that Secretary of State Chris Biggs' prediction of 19 percent turnout would be low. And it was, with 87,000 voting in advance and an initial estimate of 23 percent turnout statewide. Sedgwick County could be applauded for its record 25 percent turnout for an August primary — except that would let 190,000 no-shows off the hook.