But a Democratic challenger Mark Holland, a Methodist pastor and former mayor of the Wyandotte County Unified Government, insists he sees a path to victory. They say Moran has drifted to the far right wing of his party and lost touch with moderate Republicans, Democrats and independents.
“We don’t have to apologize for being Democrats,” Holland he said Steve Kraske in an October 11 interview on KCUR’s Up To Date. “We have a better health care report, a better public education report, a better wage report, a better gun report, a better women’s rights report.”
Holland, 53, saw hope for his chances in the Aug. 2 primary election, where Kansans overwhelmingly opposed the anti-abortion amendment Moran supported. Holland is trying to campaign in all 105 Kansas counties, saying Democrats are taking too long neglected rural voters and that his message can reach them too.
Moran, 68, has been a fixture in Kansas politics since 1989. He served eight years in the Kansas Senate, then the House of Representatives from 1997 to 2011, and now two terms in the U.S. Senate. While Moran declined to discuss Holland or be interviewed on KCUR, he says he has held countless town halls and has a deep connection to Kansas voters and their conservative values: favoring low taxes, curbing illegal immigration and supporting farmers.
“I work hard to make sure I understand how they think, why they think that way,” Moran said on Sept. 19. podcast with the Kansas Reflector. “I know and understand and represent the way many Kansans live their lives.”
Moran is known in the Senate for his work on behalf of veterans (although he is not a veteran) and his staff’s meticulous approach to constituent services. He pushed for the cleanup of the Sunflower Ammunition Plant in Johnson County. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, cited his help in luring Panasonic’s $4 billion electric car battery factory to the site.
Holland led congregations in Wathena and Elwood in northeast Kansas, and then pastored Trinity Community Church in Kansas City, Kansas, from 1999 to 2018. He co-founded Mainstream UMC, which advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Methodist Church.
Holland served six years as a unified government commissioner, then one term as mayor, from 2013 to 2017. He touts his leadership in helping bring $2.8 billion in economic development investment and 12,000 new jobs to Wyandotte County . But he lost re-election after taking on the influential firefighters union and challenging firefighters’ spending, including to pay firefighters for shifts they did not work. Holland said Washington, D.C., can learn from mayors how to really get things done in government, and he says he’ll bring that skill to a broken political system.
David Grahamof Overland Park, is the Libertarian candidate:
The race between Moran and Holland is a true study of contrasting political philosophies and values.
Key issues in the Kansas Senate race:
Moran’s PAC contributed $50,000 to the Value Them Both anti-abortion amendment, which was rejected by Kansas voters in August. He is strongly against abortion. He says the August vote showed that the abortion issue should be up to the states.
“It’s clear that Kansans are talking,” Moran told the Kansas Reflector. “My view is that they should be listened to.” Moran also said there was no chance a national abortion ban could pass the Senate “at this point and not in the foreseeable future.”
Holland says he would vote in Congress to codify Roe v. Wade and abortion rights at the national level.
“We protected women’s rights and reproductive rights in Kansas in August, and we’re going to do it for the nation on November 8,” he told KCUR.
Holland says the National Rifle Association is “the big tobacco of our generation” more concerned with profits than lives. He says Congress needs to consider banning assault weapons, but that it should first pass other sensible gun regulations, including requiring thorough background checks and training and closing purchase loopholes.
Moran says he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He has the support of the NRA. In June, he voted against bipartisan gun safety legislation that passed, saying the country needs to address the root causes of violent crime rather than create new laws that impede the rights of gun owners.
Moran says inflation is among his constituents’ biggest concerns, and says that’s where the Biden administration has failed. In August 2022, he voted against the Inflation Reduction Act, saying he opposed raising taxes, hiring more IRS agents, and other provisions of the bill. He advocates cutting federal spending, expanding energy production and focusing on pro-growth policies to lower the cost of gas, goods and services.
Holland said he supports the Biden administration’s efforts to tackle inflation. He argued that the Inflation Reduction Act would actually help struggling families by allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and keeping premiums reasonable under the Affordable Care Act. Holland said the Senate should take more proactive steps, such as setting up a panel to examine why oil companies are experiencing record profits.
Holland said he would support a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in November 2021. He says it will greatly benefit Kansas by creating jobs, investing several billion dollars in economic development and transportation projects, and bringing broadband to rural areas. .
Moran was originally part of a bipartisan group of senators that negotiated the infrastructure bill, but voted against it. (U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri voted for the bill, but Moran joined U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Roger Marshall of Kansas to vote against it.) In a statement, Moran explained that his top priority for the infrastructure bill was be paid, and he could not support the final bill because it increased the national debt too much.
Holland claims Moran refused to investigate the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol and refused to hold Donald Trump accountable for his attempt to overturn the 2020 election of Joe Biden.
“If you don’t have the courage to stand up for democracy after Jan. 6, you’ve given up your right to serve in the U.S. Senate,” Holland said on KCUR.
Moran was the only Republican in the Kansas congressional delegation to vote to confirm Biden’s election as president. “To vote to reject these state-verified electoral votes would be to act outside the bounds of the Constitution, which I will not do,” Moran said on January 5, 2021.
Condemning the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, Moran said Trump was “wrong to continue spreading allegations of massive fraud and not immediately deter reprehensible and unpatriotic behavior”. But Moran voted against impeaching Trump in February 2021, saying the Senate does not have the power to impeach the former president.
Moran won Trump’s endorsement just 12 days after that acquittal vote. Still, according to the Topeka Capital-JournalMoran voted with Trump only 61% of the time between 2019 and 2021 and is a less brazen Trump ally than his Senate colleague Marshall.
KCUR 89.3 is the Kansas City Public Radio affiliate of NPR. You can read and listen to more of their reports at kcur.org.