Rep. Steve Watkins loses Kansas primary after voter fraud charges
Kansas Rep. Steve Watkins (R) lost the GOP primary in the state’s 2nd District on Tuesday, just weeks after he was slapped with voter fraud charges.
Watkins lost to Jake LaTurner, the Kansas state treasurer, ending his bid for a second term.
The lawmaker was charged in July with interference with law enforcement, providing false information, voting without being qualified, unlawful advance voting and failing to notify the DMV of change of address.
The first three charges are felonies, and the fourth is a misdemeanor.
Watkins reportedly registered the address of a Topeka UPS store as his home address for the 2019 municipal election and allegedly voted in the wrong city council district.
He is the sixth incumbent to lose their bid for reelection this cycle.
LaTurner will now face off against Michelle De La Isla, the Democratic mayor of Topeka, in November.
Shortly after LaTurner’s victory, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released an internal poll showing him leading De La Isla 45 percent to 41 percent, a difference that falls within the poll’s margin of error.
“After nearly two years of representation by a scandal-ridden Congressman, Kansans in the 2nd District are looking for a leader who can get to work on the serious challenges facing our country. As Mayor of Topeka, Michelle De La Isla has proven time and again that she knows how to work across the partisan divide to deliver on critical issues like affordable housing and growing jobs and small businesses,” said DCCC Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.).
Watkins won his first term by less than 1 point in 2018, and the House race is rated as “Lean Republican” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
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