Kansas has been a hotly contested state this year, both at the state and federal levels. With a controversial governor in danger of losing his seat and a long-time senator with serious competition as well, it could have been a major overhaul for the Sunflower State on election night. Instead, the GOP maintained it's firm grasp on Kansas.
Sam Brownback (R) has come under fire recently for numerous reasons, including cuts to public education amongst other things. The numerous and mounting complaints against the Garnett, Kansas, native seemed to lend credence to the potential ascent to the governorship for the (relatively) liberal challenger, Paul Davis (D). Davis actually led several polls entering election day, all with a slim margin. However, as most people know, it can be very challenging at times to take down an incumbent, especially in a state as conservative as Kansas generally is. A general lack of liberal voters hurt Davis' chances from the get-go, however there were a great deal of Republicans who had gotten behind the challenger. Entering Tuesday, many pundits believed that Davis would unseat Brownback, who was considered by many to be a lame duck at this point.
Just after 11:00 PM CST, Paul Davis conceded the race to Brownback, clinching the election for the incumbent governor. Brownback took office originally in 2011.
In the senate race in Kansas, Pat Roberts (R) kept his seat safe from Greg Orman (I), a challenger with a cloud of confusion surrounding him. Orman ran as an Independent, using the title to separate himself from the stigmas and policies directly associated with the two main parties. This put him in a big of a bind from the start, because it did not give voters enough to base their opinions of him on except promises of being different than the main party candidates. Amongst Kansans, he had essentially been grouped in with liberals and the Democrats from the start, an opinion that was solidified when Vice President Joe Biden openly announced on Tuesday morning that Orman "will be with us" if elected, effectively stating that he'd align himself with the Democrats in Washington. This was a crucial blow to his campaign, as it tore down much of the facade that he had created which showed him to be a moderate candidate.
Senator Pat Roberts didn't have a campaign without controversy, most recently when Kansas State University head football coach Bill Snyder endorsed him in a television commercial. Snyder apologized for the ad and the university commented about faculty members and their policies about supporting political candidates. Roberts was not a popular candidate amongst younger voters, however the strong conservative core of the state was enough to keep him in office. By Midnight CST, Roberts had earned 53% of the vote (93% of precincts reporting).
Roberts' seat was considered to be the one most at risk amongst those held by Republicans this election. By remaining in office, the quest for the Republicans to gain control of the Senate was made much easier. The Republican did in fact take control of the Senate in this election, and they still maintain control of the House of Representatives.
These elections will create a great deal of debate and questions throughout Kansas. In the Senate, little will change as Roberts maintains his job. On the state level, however, Brownback staying in Topeka will mean the continuation of many programs he has attempted to push in the last year. Considering the amount of Republican opposition to the conservative governor, this could create more political gridlock in Kansas in the coming years.