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National Republicans will spend to defend Kansas Senate seat

National Republicans will spend to defend Kansas Senate seat
© Aaron Schwartz

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is making a last-minute bid to defend a Senate seat in Kansas that the party has held for more than a century.

The NRSC will begin airing ads on behalf of Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallThe Hill's Morning Report - Too close to call Marshall wins Kansas Senate race Live updates: Democrats fight to take control of the Senate MORE (R), the Republican nominee running to replace the retiring Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsTrump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback Business groups scramble to forge ties amid race for House Agriculture chair Republicans hold on to competitive Kansas House seat MORE (R), beginning on Wednesday, sources told The Hill. 

Details of the advertising blitz were not immediately available.

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Marshall, a two-term Republican who represents a sprawling rural district that covers all or parts of 63 western Kansas counties, won support from national Republicans in this year’s primary. Those Republicans feared Roberts’s seat would be in play if former Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the arch-conservative architect of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE’s immigration plans, won the primary.

Marshall beat Kobach by a comfortable margin, 40 percent to 26 percent.

He now faces state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D), a former Republican. Bollier pulled in $13.5 million in the last quarter, a record haul that eclipses the total amount spent by both major candidates when Roberts ran for and won reelection in 2014. 

Public polling has been sparse in the usually ruby-red state. Two internal surveys from late September — one conducted for a pro-Marshall group, the other for Bollier’s campaign — show a close race. A poll conducted by Keep Kansas Great PAC, the pro-Marshall group, showed hm leading by 4 points. A poll conducted for Bollier’s campaign showed her leading by 2 points. 

For a Democrat to be even close to competitive in Kansas is virtually unheard of. Kansas last elected a Democratic senator in 1932. The last time a Democrat won Roberts’s seat was in 1913, before senators were directly elected by voters.

To win, Bollier will need to sway a substantial portion of voters who will back President Trump. Trump won Kansas with 56 percent of the vote in 2016.