By John Celock
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) defeated a little known primary challenger by 26 points Tuesday night, a margin that has national Democrats smelling blood in the water in the November election.
Returns showed Brownback defeating businesswoman Jennifer Winn 63 percent to 37 percent to capture the Republican nomination. The primary comes as polls show Brownback trailing Democratic nominee Paul Davis in a general election match-up. While Winn had not been considered a threat to Brownback, the primary was closely watched by observers to see Brownback’s margin of victory.
Officials with the Democratic Governors Association took to Twitter Tuesday evening to say that Brownback’s margin is proof that Davis could win in November. Winn’s 37 percent of the vote comes after 100 moderate Republicans – primarily former elected officials – endorsed Davis in the November election. Several of the moderate Republicans who have backed Davis had lost 2012 primary elections to conservative opponents backed by Brownback.
During his primary night party in Overland Park, Brownback expressed confidence in the fall campaign against Davis.
“The election’s about choices. They’re not going to be voting on a moderate Democrat. This is a liberal Democrat with a long voting record of increasing taxes, of bigger government,” The Wichita Eagle reported Brownback as saying. “That’s your choice.”
Brownback has used events around the state to cite the competitive nature of the race and to tout what he says is his effective fiscal plan, including the tax cuts he has implemented. The tax cuts figure at the center of the campaign, with many Democrats having opposed the package, saying they will fiscally harm the state.
The Republican Governors Association was quick to congratulate Brownback, issuing a statement shortly after the polls closed to tout Brownback’s win. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), the RGA chairman, highlighted Brownback’s record in office, while RGA executive director Phil Cox attacked Davis,including comparing him to Obama.
Christie is traveling to Kansas this month for an RGA fundraiser with Brownback in Mission Hills.
“Thanks to Governor Sam Brownback’s leadership, Kansas is on the move once again,” Christie said in the statement. “Governor Brownback has delivered on the priorities he outlined for his first term, and he remains steadfastly committed to stimulating growth in Kansas, investing in education, getting people back to work, and putting money back in the hands of the people instead of in the hands of the government. It’s a good time to be a Kansan, and the Republican Governors Association proudly supports Governor Brownback’s re-election.”