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TMCNet:  Jordan's departure from U.S. House race in Kansas helps fellow Republican Yoder

[April 23, 2010]

Jordan's departure from U.S. House race in Kansas helps fellow Republican Yoder

Apr 23, 2010 (The Kansas City Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- With Nick Jordan out of Kansas' 3rd District race for Congress, fellow Republican Kevin Yoder emerged Thursday as a near-consensus favorite to win the GOP nomination.

Jordan, the 2008 nominee beaten by 16 points, was viewed this year as Yoder's chief competitor. But he 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 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." Although he said unity was at the heart of his decision, it came a week after first-quarter fundraising numbers were filed.

He acknowledged dissatisfaction with amassing only $180,000, adding he was "a little shocked" at Yoder's money haul, which left him with $478,000.

"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 'lazered in' to defeating Stephene Moore in November and returning a Republican vote to Washington." GOP unity, he added, represents "the worst nightmare for (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi, Moore and their agenda." Yoder sells himself in part as a politician who could occupy the seat for years and emerge as a national party leader.

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.

"Nope," Jordan said when asked about behind-the-scenes maneuvering. "This is totally Nick Jordan.

"It's a disappointment with me," Jordan said. "I have a passion for what's going on. ... I'm very concerned about Washington, D.C., right now." Several of those running praised Jordan. Of the remaining candidates, former state Rep. Patricia Lightner had the most money with $42,537.

In a statement, Lightner said she was best-suited to emerge as the primary winner because of her strong anti-abortion and "pro-marriage" stands.

At least one conservative, state Sen. Karin Brownlee of Olathe, said she still wanted to evaluate Yoder before deciding whether she could back him.

She described him as a lawmaker who was far more moderate when he was first elected in 2002. Brownlee said she was concerned that Yoder might move leftward as a U.S. House member.

Also Thursday, Republican Jean Ann Uvodich of Overland Park announced she would seek the seat. A lawyer and business owner, Uvodich said she was not a politician.

The Star's David Klepper contributed to this report. To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send e-mail to skraske@kcstar.com. To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send e-mail to dhelling@kcstar.com.

To see more of The Kansas City Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.kansascity.com. Copyright (c) 2010, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

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