Jake LaTurner, the new Republican nominee for a traditionally conservative Kansas House seat, faces a tougher-than-expected general election race, according to a new poll.
LaTurner, Kansas’s treasurer, is in a statistically tie with Democratic Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, 45% to 41%, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee found.
While President Trump won Kansas’s eastern region by 19 points in 2016, presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden only trails him by 9 percentage points, 50% to 41%, DCCC pollsters said.
A Battleground Connect poll conducted for LaTurner in mid-July also had De La Isla, a former city councilor, in front by a point.
LaTurner defeated GOP freshman incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins Tuesday night after a bitter primary fight.
Watkins last month had felony illegal voting charges filed against him after he listed a UPS store postal box as his residence on a state voter registration form. The move permitted him to cast a ballot in last year’s Topeka City Council race. He corrected the mistake, but he’s been accused of misleading the sheriff’s detective investigating the matter as well.
During the primary, Watkins called the charges “bogus” and claimed LaTurner was in cahoots with the district attorney since they share a direct mail services firm. LaTurner, in response, said Watkins’s legal woes made him more vulnerable ahead of the Nov. 3 contest.
Watkins was first elected to Congress in 2018 by less than a point in an open seat race. The Cook Political Report, however, describes the district capturing the University of Kansas as leaning Republican, with an R+10 rating.
The DCCC’s survey was fielded prior to Tuesday’s primary, surveying 488 likely voters in Kansas’s 2nd Congressional District from July 29-30 via live cellphone and automated calls. Its results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 points.
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