Attended events for both Rep. Jim Ryun and challenger Nancy Boyda. Boyda was outside Topeka's Goodyear plant, catching workers on shift change. Gov. Sebelius stopped by and lent her support. Boyda's kept neck-and-neck with Ryun, in part with her own money -- all the better to not rely on corporate PACs, she retorts.
Boyda's kept this district a race longer than many "experts" thought she would. "I'm the dark horse, the one eveyone will look at on Nov. 3 and say, she really pulled this off." I talked to a Goodyear worker on my way out from the event, and he said he was considering Boyda because, unlike other Democrats, she supports conceal-and-carry laws. (Boyda differs with Sebelius on this as well.) I mentioned to a fellow reporter that that's an unconventional Democratic position. "You must not be from around here," he replied.
Ryun, meanwhile, was standing outside a Panera right off an I-70 exit, waving signs with his wife, his family, his staffers ... they've grown pretty close-knit over four terms in office, and this may be Ryun's most challenging race. It's been noteworthily negative, with Ryun accusing Boyda of distorting his record and Boyda still smarting over an ad that showed Osama bin Laden in reference to her. Hard, though, to feel negative on a gorgeous day, with workers shaking hands at the plant and folks in their SUVs honking at the incumbent on their way out from Wal-Mart. This is one of America's strongest features -- its leaders have to stand on sidewalks and in front of fences, personally appealing to voters. And it's not just for the cameras, either -- lawmakers who don't engage the electorate might make it a term or two on muscle or money, but it never lasts under the American system. Ryun and Boyda are in their final days, and they're competing for votes. And may the best representative of those voters win.