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Rep. Connie O’Brien (R-Tonganoxie) won a 4th term in the Kansas House of Representatives Tuesday night with a strong margin of victory of 18-year-old Austin Harris (D-Tonganoxie). With over 6600 votes cast in the district, O’Brien beat Harris 59% – 41%.
“I’m extremely grateful to the voters of Leavenworth and Douglas County,” O’Brien said following the victory. “This shows that my motto of job creation, not taxation is a strong message and people of Kansas do not have to be worried about keeping their hard earned money.”
Harris was gracious in losing his first ever political campaign.
“Obviously, this is not the outcome I was hoping for, but I support the decision of the people,” Harris told us. “I caused a conversation and a debate. I’m very happy and proud of the campaign we ran.”
O’Brien complemented Harris following the announcement of the results.
“He was very articulate,” O’Brien said. “It’s nice to see young people wanting to be involved in the political process.”
This is likely not the last time you will hear or see Harris. Harris discussed how he plans on taking a close look at the numbers and seeing where he can improve in the future.
“This was an incredible learning experience for me,” Harris stated. “I hope to take this and improve upon it in the future.”
When we asked Harris what his future political aspirations might be he stated that he certainly would like to run again, but that it would depend on school and other determinations to be made down the road. Harris is in his first semester at Washburn University.
Statewide Republicans won out as well. Pat Roberts to the U.S. Senate seat handily. Governor Sam Brownback won a narrow victory over Paul Davis. Both seats had been hotly contested over the last several weeks. All four U.S House Representatives seats went to Republicans as well.
In the House District that encompasses Eudora, Rep Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) easily won her election over Margie Wakefield (D-Lawrence) and Chris Clemmons (L-Shawnee). Jenkins garnered 57% of the vote with Wakefield picking up 39% and Clemmons nabbing 4% of the votes. Wakefield won only Douglas County out of the 25 counties in the 2nd Congressional District. Clemmons won no counties.
“I would like to thank the good people of Eastern Kansas for giving me the honor and the privilege of representing them in Washington,” Jenkins said in a press release. “We have a real mess in Washington and Eastern Kansans have recognized that I am trying to be a part of the solution. We have been working very hard in the House over the past couple years to put forward solutions to get the fiscal House in order, to get people back to work, to put more money in people’s pockets, and get the economy moving again.”
Clemmons posted a message on his Facebook page following the loss. The message was posted before the final numbers were tallied.
“I ran this campaign by myself on less than $5,000. I attended every event I was invited to and everywhere I went, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” Clemmons said. “Am I disappointed at a 5% showing? Yes. But don’t allow tonight’s results take the wind out of your sails.”
Later in is statement, he said that this was not the end of the trail for him.
“This campaign was a stepping stone for 2016. While we didn’t win tonight, know that I will not be deterred. I will run again and we will get the W in 2016.”