Mary Jo Taylor was the winner Tuesday in the race to become the Republican nominee in November for the 33rd Senate District of Kansas. At 11:20 p.m., with 185 of 190 precincts reporting their final unofficial results to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, she had 7,115 votes, compared to 6,521 for Larry Salmans, giving her 52 percent of that total.
In Barton County, she received 52 percent of the votes counted Tuesday with all 40 precincts accounted for. The Barton County total was Taylor 2,291 and Salmans 2,144.
Election results will not be official until the counties canvass the votes, followed by the state canvass.
Although Taylor never slipped behind Salmans, at one point during the evening less than 1 percent separated the two as results trickled in.
A close race
“It’s a very close race,” Taylor said when there were still many votes to count. Not wanting to call a premature victory, she commented, “Going forward there’s going to be a lot of work to do.”
It was the Stafford Unified School District superintendent’s first bid for political office and she credited her volunteers for helping her become known to the voters.
“This was just a passion and a desire to effect change,” she said of her decision to run.
Salmans, who lives in Hanston, served in the senate from 1996-2004, but district lines are redrawn every 10 years. This was the first time Barton County was included in his district. Returning to politics after a 12-year absence, he had no trouble carrying the counties where he previously served as senator: Lane, Hodgeman, Pawnee, Ness and Edwards. He received 77 percent of Ness County’s votes, 559 to 164. But in all of the other counties, Taylor pulled ahead. That includes Pratt, Kiowa, Rice and Stafford County, as well as Barton.
Taylor lives in Stafford County and received 70 percent of the vote there – 813 to 422. She also received 71 percent of the votes in Pratt County – 1,458 to 592; in Kiowa County she won 315 to 263; and in Rice, 141 to 113.
Pawnee County reported Salmans received 907 votes to Taylor’s 654; in Lane County he received 240 to Taylor’s 22; Hodgeman, 285 to 143; Edwards 310 to 243.
Salmans said he was disappointed by some of the negative campaigning that went on, but he mostly saw his defeat as voters shifting more to the left, looking for a moderate candidate. “I’m more conservative,” he said.
He was not unknown in Barton County, where he has many friends and relatives. For those who didn’t know him, “I think we got our name out pretty well,” Salmans said. He and his wife knocked on a lot of doors here.
No primary for Dems
Matt Bristow, an Ellinwood attorney seeking the Democratic party nomination, did not face an opponent. He did receive 486 votes in Barton County.
“It is a privilege and honor to be the presumptive democratic nominee for the 33rd district state senate seat,” Bristow said. “I look forward to meeting with the voters and earning their confidence for the November general election.”