Rep. Roger Marshall, backed by establishment Republicans, won the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, defeating former secretary of state and polarizing conservative Kris Kobach and several others in a crowded field.
The Associated Press called the race for Marshall, who was one of 11 candidates in the primary for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts, shortly before 9:10 p.m. local time.
Marshall and Kobach had been seen as the main contenders in a race that could affect control of the Senate.
Kobach, the former Republican secretary of state of Kansas who lost his bid for governor in 2018, was running with the help of a Democrat-linked group and without the blessing of GOP party leaders.
Marshall has been endorsed by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Roberts, among other senior party leaders.
Roberts announced in January 2019 that he would not seek re-election in 2020.
Marshall on Tuesday night thanked supporters and said he was truly humbled, according to a live stream of the event on the representative’s Facebook page.
He called it a “tough, tough primary race” but said the focus should be on keeping the seat in Republican control in the general election.
“We have to be one team here,” Marshall told supporters. “And you will find that we have way more in common than what divides us.”
“I’ve always believed in this iron sharpening iron,” he said, “and boy I’ll tell you what: After this primary our swords are sharp.”
The race raised alarm among Republicans who feared that if a polarizing candidate like Kobach won the primary he could lose in November, putting their Senate majority at risk. Kobach has long been an anti immigration hawk and headed President Donald Trump’s task force on voting fraud that was disbanded in 2018.
Marshall will face Democrat Barbara Bollier, a state senator and former Republican, who easily defeated Robert Tillman in the Democratic primary.
Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday in four other states — Michigan,where freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib faced a strong primary challenge, Arizona, Missouri and Washington — in some of the last primaries left on the year’s election calendar.