Marshall keeps Kansas Senate seat in Republican hands

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Republican Rep. Roger Marshall defeated Democrat Barbara Bollier for a Senate seat in Kansas, protecting the seat for his party despite a massive effort by Democrats to pull a second statewide upset in two years.

Bollier, a state legislator and former Republican, was hoping to emulate Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat who surprisingly won the governorship in the heavily Republican state in 2018. But Marshall was able to recover, after a slog of a GOP primary, to win the race.

The election for retiring Republican Sen. Pat Roberts’ seat prompted significant spending from both parties, with outside groups spending more than $38 million on the general election — most of which was aimed at taking down Bollier, whose own high fundraising helped keep the race in play.

While more public polls showed Marshall winning than not, the results were often within the margin of error, and Democrats released several surveys showing a tied race.

Marshall had to fight through a crowded Republican primary field, including former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an immigration hardliner and prominent supporter of President Donald Trump. But Kansas voters rejected Kobach in 2018 when he ran for governor and lost shockingly to Kelly, and Trump stayed out of the 2020 Senate race after endorsing Kobach the day before the gubernatorial primary in 2018.

While Democratic outside groups spent money on ads propping Kobach up, believing him to be the more beatable opponent, Marshall ended up winning the nomination by double digits.

However, the race stayed on the radar after that, with polling still showing a close race between Bollier and Marshall. The two candidates clashed on multiple fronts, including health care, race relations and their stances on the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice.

Both candidates are physicians, and they both plugged their medical experience while discussing how to handle the coronavirus pandemic and other issues affecting the country.

Republicans tagged Bollier as too liberal for the state, tying her to national Democrats and touting Marshall’s conservatism and his support from, among others, former Sen. Bob Dole. Meanwhile, Bollier touted her support from Republicans in ads and attacked Marshall’s votes on health care.

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