Kansan Tiahrt makes Senate bid official

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) officially launched his 2010 Senate bid Saturday, setting up a primary face off with fellow Republican Rep. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOvernight Defense: War powers fight runs into impeachment | Kaine has 51 votes for Iran resolution | Trump plans to divert .2B from Pentagon to border wall War powers fight in Senate runs squarely into impeachment Third GOP senator says he'll support Iran war powers resolution MORE.

"As I travel across Kansas listening and sharing my vision for a more prosperous state, I have been encouraged to take my leadership to the United States Senate in 2010," Tiahrt said at an event in Topeka, according to a statement issued by his campaign.

"I am resolute in my determination to take on tough battles in Washington to get things done for the great people of Kansas," he said. "I stand before you today announcing that I am now a candidate for the United States Senate."

Tiahrt and Moran will battle for the GOP slot in the face to replace Sen. Sam Brownback (R), who announced he will not seek reelection and is weighing a run for governor in 2010. Tiahrt is serving his eighth term in the House and Moran his seventh. Moran announced his Senate bid just days after winning reelection to his House seat and officially registered as a candidate on Thursday.

Moran's campaign release an internal poll Wednesday showing him with a 41 percent to 25 percent lead over Tiahrt, with more than one-third of voters undecided.

Tiahrt is viewed as the more conservative candidate while Moran has touted his independence from party orthodoxy.

“I have worked to become an independent voice in Washington, D.C., that listens to the people I represent and not to party or House leaders," Moran said in a statement Thursday.

Moran has an early fundraising edge over Tiahrt, based on the most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission. By the end of 2008, Moran had $2.5 million in his campaign coffers. Though Tiahrt's final tally for the year is not yet available, he had $1 million on hand through the first three quarters of the year.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusJerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Mark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE (D) reportedly is weighing a Senate bid. Sebelius's candidacy would provide the eventual Republican candidate with a tough race against a popular Democrat -- and give Kansas Democrats an extraordinary opportunity to send one of their own to the Senate. The only Democrat ever elected to represent Kansas in the upper chamber was Sen. George McGill. McGill won a race to fill a vacant seat in 1930, then won a full term in 1932 but lost a reelection bid in 1939 and failed to reclaim a seat in three subsequent tries.

This is one of four open seats the GOP will be defending in the 2010 cycle. Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) have also announced they will not seek reelection.