Moderates prevail in northeast JoCo Republican primaries

Melissa Rooker (from left), Kay Wolf and Stephanie Sawyer Clayton celebrated at the Overland Park Marriott after primary election results came in Tuesday night.

Bucking a trend across the rest of the state, a trio of moderate Republicans prevailed in northeast Johnson County legislative primaries Tuesday.

Rep. Kay Wolf, who received the support of moderate former Kansas governor Bill Graves, fended off an often acidic challenge from conservative David Harvey to win the District 7 Senate primary. Wolf’s 57-43 margin of victory was slightly wider than the 54-46 notched by former Sen. Terrie Huntington when she defeated Harvey during his first run for the senate in 2010.

Wolf attributed the victory to a strong ground game.

“We had so many helpers and volunteers working with us,” she said. “I think when word of the importance of this race got out, people turned out for us.”

Wolf will face Democrat Kyle Russell, who was unopposed in the primary, in the general election.

The two candidates Wolf supported in local house races prevailed as well. Political newcomer Melissa Rooker easily defeated two challengers in the District 25 House primary, taking 47 percent of the vote. Candidates Bill Griffith and Stephen Foster had 27 and 25 percent of the vote, respectively.

She will face Democrat Megan England, who sounded defeated Scott Gregory in the primaries Tuesday, in November. (We weren’t able to catch England for comment after the victory).

Rooker said that she intends to carry the themes she focused on during the primaries into the general election campaign.

“You’ve got to protect education,” she said. “Having a well educated workforce is key to maintaining a high quality of life in the area.”

Stephanie Sawyer Clayton, who lost a primary race to Rep. Rob Bruchman in 2010, edged out the more conservative Bruce Belanger in the District 19 House race, 51-49. She will face Democrat Zachary Luea in the general election. He was unopposed in the primary.

“I’m happy to be through,” Clayton said. “You move on, and you focus on the general election.”