Those are big footsteps that anyone has to try to fill, said a Republican operative familiar with the district. Jerry has a tremendous reputation for staying in touch with that district, just doing his annual listening tour.
Similarly, Tiahrts long tenure in the 4th district also makes the GOP primary a free-for-all. Unlike the 1st district, however, no candidate has officially filed with the Federal Election Commission for Tiahrts seat yet.
But that will change this weekend when, according to state Republican Party Chairman Christian Morgan, state Sen. Dick Kelsey (R) will announce his candidacy. In addition to Kelsey, state Sen. Susan Wagle (R) and Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt (R) are actively looking at running for the seat.
Republican National Committeeman Mike Pompeo is also believed to be interested in running, along with Wichita Vice Mayor Sue Schlapp and her son, former White House Political Director Matt Schlapp.
Also unlike the sprawling 1st district, candidates for the 4th district will focus on the Wichita area.
Its almost like survival of the fittest down there, Morgan said. Whoever can get that Wichita business community and money behind their campaign, holds the keys to the city.
According to a Republican activist familiar with the field, the primary could sort itself out into two separate tiers. Wagle, Pompeo and Matt Schlapp would be considered top-level candidates, while Kelsey and Schmidt would be considered second tier. Sue Schlapp, the activist said, would fit in between the two tiers.
Both House seats are expected to stay in Republican hands in 2010 and so is Brownbacks Senate seat that is, unless national Democrats can convince Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) to run, which would set up a competitive race between the governor and a Member of Congress.
Recently, however, Sebelius has been mentioned as a potential nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services after former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) withdrew his nomination because of tax problems.
When asked about a potential Senate race in 2010, Sebelius spokeswoman Beth Martino declined to specifically address the race.
Right now, Gov. Sebelius is focusing her energy on the budget and the economic challenges facing Kansas, Martino said.