By Diane Silver
[updated 12:40 a.m.]
Democrat Nancy Boyda's amazing victory over incumbent Republican Jim Ryun isn't just about the defeat of one member of the GOP.
Of course, Boyda's victory added to the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives. However, her win also shows that even in the reddest of red states people have simply had enough of George W. Bush.
Honestly, there really is no other reason for a Boyda victory. Oh yes, she got an influx of support from the national Democratic Party at the last minute, but it was last-minute help. Before those last few weeks, Boyda had almost no money. Every mainstream journalist had written her off, and the disdain showed in the coverage of the race. When she ran two years ago with the full backing of the party, Ryun beat her by 15 points.
I've read some last-minute analyses of the race that have tried to claim that the 2nd District has always been evenly mixed with Democrats and Republicans. Folks who make that argument point to the fact that Democrat Jim Slattery represented the district for years.
However, they fail to note that the district Slattery won was far different than the one that was redrawn for Ryun by the Republican Legislature.
When Slattery won in the 2nd, the district included all or most of Lawrence, which is clearly the most liberal town in the state. In fact, I used to live in the 2nd District. When the GOP redrew the district lines, though, I woke up one morning to find that I had moved to the 3rd District without ever leaving my front door.
KC Buzz Blog reminded us of a Daily Kos post claiming that the redistricting may have created two Democratic districts, instead of watering down Lawrence's D-strength and turning the two districts red. That's an interesting argument, but I don't buy it.
The redistricting occurred in 2002, as far as I can tell with a quick Internet search tonight. Ryun handily beat Boyda in the 2004 election. The district wasn't too blue then.
What's changed, though, is Iraq, Abramoff, and two more horrendous years of Bush.
On Sunday Bush himself "helped" Ryun by coming to Topeka. Our not-so-beloved president stood arm-in-arm with Ryun. You can see how much that helped.
Finally, perhaps we should do a little hat tip to Democratic Chairman Howard Dean and his 50-state strategy. After years of being ignored, Kansas Democrats finally had a bit of help from the national party. It did make a difference.