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Kansas: Battle for the Statehouse

Incumbent: Gov. Mark Parkinson (D) is retiring

Democrat: State Sen. Tom Holland

Republican: Sen. Sam Brownback

2008 Presidential Result: Obama 42%; McCain 57%

55+ Population (2009 estimate): 24.3%

Overview: Kansas is GOP territory and this one was supposed to be a walk in the park for Sam Brownback, a conservative who has won his Senate contests easily. Polls show him leading, but the anti-incumbent backlash is whipping him around a bit. This looks to be a big takeover for the Republicans, nonetheless. Both candidates have tried to get the edge on debates — accepting or declining multiple invitations in order to find a friendlier forum.

50+ Facts: Check the latest economic statistics and details on the state budget deficit.

Fun Fact: Brownback has a TV ad comparing his campaign to a football team's 79 consecutive games win streak at Smith Center, Kan. Brownback says the team's philosophy of "don't take mammoth steps; take little ones done the right way" is his mantra.

'Wild card' Issue: School funding. Fifty percent of the state's budget goes to education and the school funding formula is ripe for revision. It was last revised in the early 1990s, when the bulk of the financing burden was shifted to the state from the local communities. Brownback wants a new formula, putting more of the burden on the locals. Tom Holland says that invites litigation.

Introduction: Governors' Races Hold High Stakes for the Future

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