• U.S.

A GUIDE TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES: KANSAS

12 minute read
TIME

KANSAS

Population (1994): 2,554,000 (up 3.1% from 1990), 1% of U.S. total

Voting-age population: 1,889,000; 1994 turnout, 43%

Median age: 32.9 years

Median household income: $28,322 ($3,942 below U.S. median)

Unemployment: 3.7% (1.9% below U.S. average, March 1996)

Last presidential election: Clinton (D): 34% Bush (R): 39% Perot (I): 27%

Congressional delegation: No Democrats, six Republicans

The Sunflower State is currently ruled by an entirely Republican congressional delegation, a tribute to one of the strongest G.O.P. traditions in the land: this top wheat-producing state has not had a Democratic Senator since 1939, and has voted for a Democratic President only once since 1940. But with both Senate seats and three of four House seats open, Kansas is now one of the most volatile states in the Union this election season–and the Democrats have nowhere to go but up. Some pundits even see the possibility of a Democratic congressional delegation from Kansas next year–a prospect that would make Republican flowers, especially in Bob Dole’s home state, droop.

SAM BROWNBACK (R) SENIOR SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: Sept. 12, 1956, Garnett EDUCATION: Kansas State U, B.S., 1979; U of Kansas, J.D., 1982 FAMILY: Wife, Mary; three children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Teacher; lawyer; White House aide; broadcaster POLITICAL CAREER: Kansas Secretary of Agriculture, 1986-90, 1991-93; U.S. House, 1994- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 2008, Topeka 66601. Tel.: 913-357-0307

Brownback was a persistent budget cutter during his freshman term in the House, introducing a bill to mandate independent audits of Congress and calling for a constitutional evaluation of all federal programs. He beat appointed Senator Sheila Frahm–who took over for Bob Dole in June–in the G.O.P. primary, despite Frahm’s backing by retiring Senator Nancy Kassebaum, and he’s taking his conservative agenda to the general election.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion YES Guns NR Gays NO Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare NO National Service NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “There is a funny thing about jobs: to get more of them, we need less Washington. We need less litigation, regulation, taxation and manipulation out of Washington.”

JILL DOCKING (D) SENIOR SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: Nov. 6, 1955, Springfield, Mass. EDUCATION: U of Kansas, B.A., 1978, M.B.A., 1984 FAMILY: Husband, Thomas; two children RELIGION: Jewish MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Investment broker POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: P.O. Box 306, Wichita 67201. Tel.: 316-263-3080

Though she has never held elective office, Docking’s name carries weight in Kansas politics–husband Thomas was Lieutenant Governor in the mid-1980s, and both her father-in-law and grandfather-in-law served as Governor. A moderate Democrat–her pro-choice views may give G.O.P. moderates a safe haven from staunchly antiabortion opponent Sam Brownback–she wants to cut federal spending gradually and has a detailed plan for saving Social Security.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion NR Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare YES National Service YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “Americans have been frightened by the Contract with America because…it fails to honor important existing obligations. It threatens our elderly, our children and our sick.”

PAT ROBERTS (R) JUNIOR SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: April 20, 1936, Topeka EDUCATION: Kansas State U, B.S., 1958 FAMILY: Wife, Franki; three children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: Marines, 1958-62 OCCUPATION: Journalist; congressional aide POLITICAL CAREER: U.S. House, 1980- ADDRESS: 1189 Southwest Wanamaker Road, Suite B, Topeka 66604. Tel.: 913-228-0284

Roberts, called “the aggie” because of his focus on farm issues, is an eight-term incumbent whose Republican roots stretch back to the ’50s–when his father was Republican National Committee chairman. Still calling himself an Eisenhower Republican, Roberts also supports all the planks of the Contract with America except term limits.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion NR Guns NO Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare NO National Service NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “We have several generations now who think their food comes from grocery stores. There is a misunderstanding by an increasing number of members of Congress and the American people who are taking the food supply for granted.”

SALLY THOMPSON (D) JUNIOR SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: Feb. 17, 1940, Spokane, Wash. EDUCATION: U of Colorado, B.S., 1975 FAMILY: Divorced; three children RELIGION: Protestant MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Financial business owner; bank executive; accountant; educator POLITICAL CAREER: Kansas Treasurer, 1990- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 358, Topeka 66601. Tel.: 913-272-5855

Kansas’ chief financial officer since 1990, Thompson has learned to work within the state’s G.O.P.-dominated political scene. She has taken heat for $20 million in losses from the state’s Municipal Investment Pool, but she has also taken aim at opponent Pat Roberts, calling him a career politician who hasn’t lived in Kansas in 30 years. Thompson styles herself as a “moderate, independent bipartisan problem solver,” much like retiring Senator Nancy Kassebaum, whom she would replace.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare NR Defense NO Abortion NO Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare YES National Service YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I know how to balance budgets and make the necessary cuts in spending and still develop an effective and efficient government.”

JOHN DIVINE (D) District 1 (Rural west–Salina; Hutchinson; Dodge City)

BORN: Feb. 19, 1943, Hutchinson EDUCATION: Kansas State U, B.S., 1971 FAMILY: Wife, Deborah; three children RELIGION: Presbyterian MILITARY: Kansas National Guard, 1961-62; Army, 1961-62 OCCUPATION: Marketing executive; salesman POLITICAL CAREER: Salina city commission, 1989-; mayor, 1995-96 ADDRESS: 109 North Santa Fe, Salina 67401. Tel.: 913-823-8202

Ex-Salina mayor Divine now works as the local government-marketing executive for IBM. Concerned that the changing job market demands new skills that many in his agricultural district may lack, he says he’ll promote job training via school/business partnerships. But Democrat Divine runs uphill in Bob Dole’s hometown district, where Clinton placed third in 1992, behind Bush and Perot.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense NR Abortion NR Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare NR Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “In Congress I will work to ensure that schools are not treated like pawns in tax shifting and budget cutting.”

JERRY MORAN (R) District 1

BORN: May 29, 1954, Great Bend EDUCATION: U of Kansas, B.S., 1976; J.D., 1981 FAMILY: Wife, Robba; two children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Kansas Senate, 1988- ADDRESS: 1011 Main, Hays 67601. Tel.: 913-625-1111

Moran, the current Kansas Senate majority leader, boasts that he has never missed a floor vote in eight years. He vows to be a vocal protector of agriculture and small business, and says he wants to shift power back to the states and fight income-tax increases. A favorite to take over for Senate hopeful Pat Roberts, Moran has logged more than 8,000 miles a month to deliver his message in all 66 counties of the “Big First,” a district that comprises more than two-thirds of Kansas.

THE ISSUES

Budget NR Medicare NR Defense NR Abortion NR Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia NR NAFTA NR Welfare NR Medical Leave NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I don’t think the status quo is sufficient. It is time to reinvent the way government operates and the role it plays.”

JOHN FRIEDEN (D) District 2 (East–Topeka; Leavenworth; Pittsburg)

BORN: May 15, 1942, Hardtner EDUCATION: Northwestern State U, B.A., 1964; Washburn U, J.D., 1967 FAMILY: Wife, Janet; two children RELIGION: Episcopalian MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: P.O. Box 5858, Topeka 66605. Tel.: 913-267-1945

Though opponent Jim Ryun would beat him at the mile, Frieden might win a marathon–he has completed five. What he really wants to win, though, is this race for the seat being vacated by Sam Brownback. A self-described moderate, Friedan describes the proposed G.O.P. attempt to slow Medicare growth as “crippling.” He has traveled throughout eastern Kansas, meeting with citizens at “Table Talks” to listen to their concerns. Frieden gives the Democrats a chance to break the G.O.P.’s two-year monopoly on Kansas seats in the U.S. House.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion YES Guns YES Gays NO Bosnia NO NAFTA NO Welfare NO Medical Leave yeS (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I’m hearing from groups that are interested, instead of interest groups. The difference can be enlightening.”

JIM RYUN (R) District 2

BORN: April 29, 1947, Wichita EDUCATION: U of Kansas, B.A., 1970 FAMILY: Wife, Anne; four children RELIGION: Presbyterian MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Motivational speaker; author; Olympic athlete POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: P.O. Box 826, Topeka 66601. Tel.: 913-273-8901

A former world-record holder in the mile and a three-time Olympian, Ryun is a fundamentalist Christian conservative who stresses the importance of family, finances and the future, saying he wants to return to the principles of the Founding Fathers. He has done some grass-roots campaigning with his wife and children, but he has to keep it up to win this seat, which was Democratic for 20 out of 24 years before Sam Brownback took it in the 1994 election. For Ryun, the athlete and politician, this race could come down to a sprint in the home stretch.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA NO Welfare YES Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “We’re running a debt-free campaign. I believe that’s the way government should run…If the money’s not there, we don’t spend it.”

JUDY HANCOCK (D) District 3 (Kansas City region–Overland Park; Lawrence)

BORN: July 3, 1951, Kansas City EDUCATION: Princeton U, B.A., 1973; Harvard U, J.D., 1976 FAMILY: Single RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Democratic nominee for U.S. House, 1994 ADDRESS: 8819 Metcalf, Overland Park 66212. Tel.: 913-385-5888

Citizens of the Third have a definite and clear-cut choice this year, as Hancock, a high-achieving, pro-choice, pro-gun control Democrat faces off against Vince Snowbarger, an archetype of conservatism. But in the only district in Kansas that went for Clinton in 1992, she’s hoping to attract moderate Republicans who are put off by the Contract with America and what she sees as the “extremist” nature of her opponent’s politics.

THE ISSUES

Budget NR Medicare NR Defense NR Abortion NR Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia NR NAFTA NR Welfare NR Medical Leave NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I believe that Newt Gingrich’s agenda is negative and is viewed negatively by a majority of people in the district. My gut tells me that. People are concerned that Gingrich was attempting to go to far.”

VINCE SNOWBARGER (R) District 3

BORN: Sept. 16, 1949, Kankakee, Ill. EDUCATION: Southern Nazarene U, B.A., 1971; U of Illinois, M.A., 1974; U of Kansas, J.D., 1977 FAMILY: Wife, Carolyn, two children RELIGION: Nazarene MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer; college instructor POLITICAL CAREER: Kansas House, 1985- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 3001, Olathe 66063. Tel.: 913-397-0500

Kansas House majority leader Snowbarger overcame his state’s Republican establishment when he soundly beat Overland Park mayor Ed Eilert, who was endorsed by retiring Senator Nancy Kassebaum. A fiscal and social conservative (he’s backed by the N.R.A. and Kansas pro-life groups), Snowbarger was known as a tax cutter in the state legislature, and tried to push over $1 billion in state tax cuts during the last legislative session.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I would rather look the Washington big spenders in their faces and tell them, ‘No more!’ than have to look my children in their eyes and tell them, ‘We failed.'”

RANDY RATHBUN (D) District 4 (South central–Wichita)

BORN: Aug. 24, 1953, Miami Beach, Fla. EDUCATION: Kansas State U, B.S., 1975; Washburn U, J.D., 1978 FAMILY: Wife, Janet; three children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Republican nominee for Kansas House, 1976; U.S. attorney, 1993-1996 ADDRESS: P.O. Box 3454, Wichita 67201. Tel.: 316-263-6496

As U.S. attorney for Kansas, Rathbun represented the U.S. in the arrest, detention and transfer of Terry Nichols to his trial for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He also specializes in environmental law and attacks incumbent Todd Tiahrt for his 0% rating by the League of Conservation Voters, as well as his 97% record of voting with Speaker Gingrich.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion YES Guns YES Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA NO Welfare YES Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “We have the greatest working force in the world, but the problem is that the folks out there who are doing the work aren’t sharing in those proceeds.”

TODD TIAHRT (R) District 4

BORN: June 15, 1951, Vermillion, S.D. EDUCATION: Evangel College, B.A., 1975; Southwest Missouri State U, M.B.A., 1989 FAMILY: Wife, Vicki; three children RELIGION: Assembly of God MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: College instructor; airline-company manager POLITICAL CAREER: Kansas Senate, 1992-94; U.S. House, 1994- ADDRESS: 2250 North Rock Road, Suite 118-228, Wichita 67226. Tel.: 316-652-9595

A South Dakota farm boy and Christian conservative, Tiahrt has proposed abolishing the Department of Energy and supports the G.O.P.’s Medicare Preservation Act, which would have trimmed Medicare’s growth by $270 billion over seven years. His victory in 1994 was considered an upset, and Tiahrt has a tough opponent in U.S. attorney Randy Rathbun.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NR Abortion YES Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia YES NAFTA NR Welfare YES Medical Leave NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I was elected to stop the uncontrolled spending of the past 40 years and balance the federal budget. If applied to President Clinton, the National Taxpayers Union rating system would have given him an F.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com