Ryun loses to repeat challenger
U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., didn't know what hit him.
A five-term incumbent, Ryun was soundly defeated Tuesday by Democratic challenger Nancy Boyda, stunning most observers and contributing to a Democratic recapture of the U.S. House.
Ryun easily defeated Boyda when she first challenged him in 2004.
"Winning is a lot more fun," Boyda told a cheering crowd at the Democrats' victory party.
Ryun, a conservative Republican and devout Christian, appeared dazed in his concession speech shortly before 11 p.m.
"I still think we have the right values," he said, shortly before thanking his staff and turning the microphone over to his wife, Ann, who praised God.
"To God be the glory for the great things he has done," she said, smiling. "We are people of faith."
Minutes later, Ryun, his family and staff left the stage, declining to meet with reporters.
In 2004, Ryun defeated Boyda by almost 44,000 votes. She won this election by 7,629 votes with all 819 precincts reporting, 51 percent to 47 percent.
In her victory speech, Boyda said Congress needs to break the influence of big money, tackle the problems of health care and craft a balanced energy policy.
She credited her victory to a grass-roots campaign and education for voters with lots of information in the form of newspaper inserts.
"Staying low and under the radar was absolutely part of our strategy," she said. "We've worked many, many hours to get this thing done."
Boyda's campaign purposely distanced itself from the national Democratic Party, capitalizing on voter discontent with Congress and the war in Iraq.
"She ran a very different kind of campaign," said House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka. "She took advantage of some things going on nationally. She articulated an almost populist tone that appealed to independent and unaffiliated voters. She even managed to appeal to some of the Libertarian types, the old Ross Perot supporters.
"And, naturally, she had a solid Democrat base as well."
President Bush campaigned for Ryun on Sunday in Topeka.
"I suspect that only resonated with the hard core," said Mark Weeks, a history and political science instructor at Allen County Community College in Iola.
Addressing a somber crowd of supporters, Ryun said, "I still believe we have the right values."