Matt Bevens is dropping out of the race to replace Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. He made his announcement just as political analyst Larry Sabato moved the race from ‘leans Republican’ to ‘toss-up.’
Wednesday afternoon, Bevens appeared at a press conference with one of his opponents in the race, state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald. There, Fitzgerald pledged to limit himself to three terms in Congress if elected. Bevens announced he was dropping out of the race and offered his endorsement to Fitzgerald.
“It is time for the Kansas GOP to unify around one candidate who can keep this district conservative,” Bevens said. “…Fitzgerald has the best chance of the remaining candidates of keeping this seat Republican, and I look forward to working with him and his team to make that happen.”
Fitzgerald said recent headlines show Republicans can’t afford to wait until the August primary to start campaigning.
“We must start now, and that is only possible if the Republican party unifies around my campaign,” he said.
Kansas’ Second Congressional District was once considered ‘leans Republican,’ but Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement yesterday prompted Sabato to move the Kansas contest to a “toss up.” Sabato notes that Democratic candidate Paul Davis is “running a strong race against a field of Republicans.”
Despite Bevens’ withdrawal Wednesday, the Republican race remains crowded, and it appears no others are removing hats from the ring.
A statement from the Tyler Tannahill campaign called Fitzgerald’s request that others drop out a “bully tactic.”
“Kansans deserve to have a choice in who they vote to represent them in the Republican primary,” the statement reads.
Remaining Republican candidates in the race include Fitzgerald, state Sen. Caryn Tyson, state Rep. Kevin Jones, Vernon Fields, and Steve Watkins. Former Kansas Secretary of Commerce Antoine Soave dropped out of the race in November.