Conservative candidates ruled the Republican primary on Tuesday in the Wichita area. Rep. Ron Estes, gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, Secretary of State candidate Scott Schwab and Insurance Commissioner candidate Clark Shultz enjoyed comfortable margins over opponents in Sedgwick County voting.
Richard Ranzau, a conservative incumbent in Sedgwick County Commission District 4, won another GOP nomination. Conservative district court judge candidates Rodger Woods and Linda Kirby also won with room to spare.
But what the heck happened in the 93rd District primary?
J.C. Moore, a moderate Republican whose views on issues seems more centrist than moderate — and downright Democratic in the areas of public-education funding and Medicaid expansion — defeated two-term incumbent John Whitmer with 51 percent of the vote in the southwest Wichita district.
Whitmer was one of the state’s most conservative lawmakers. He once drafted legislation that would restrict transgender students from using school bathrooms that didn’t match the gender on their birth certificates. He railed on tax increases and reckless spending.
But in a dark-red wave across Sedgwick County, Whitmer crashed into the pier. Moore, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, won by 52 votes unofficially in a 2,200-vote primary after losing GOP primaries in two other districts in past years. He’s lived in the 93rd District for six months.
Whitmer was the lone conservative loss in Republican House primaries around the Wichita area.
Renee Erickson defeated first-time candidate Jeff Kennedy in east Wichita’s 87th District. Nick Hoheisel was the less conservative of two options in the 97th District but still won with 54 percent. Stephen Owens knocked out moderate incumbent Don Schroeder in a 74th District that covers Marion, McPherson and Harvey counties. Incumbent Dan Hawkins won easily in the 100th. And Will Carpenter got his revenge in the 75th District, defeating moderate incumbent Mary Martha Good two years after she defeated him for the Butler County seat.
Ranzau trailed challenger Hugh Nicks much of the night before winning by 87 votes out of more than 6,800 cast. His victory sets up an interesting general election campaign against Democratic nominee Lacey Cruse, a first-time candidate who has gotten mileage out of the campaign slogan “NO MORE OLD WHITE GUYS” with District 1 Democratic nominee Renee Duxler.
The 4th District U.S. House primaries didn’t reveal any surprises. Rep. Estes beat nuisance challenger Ron M. Estes by a 4-to-1 ratio, and Democratic nominee James Thompson won with two-thirds of the vote against Laura Lombard. It’s a rematch of the April 2017 special election that Estes won by 7 percentage points.