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Kansas Republicans Breathe A Sigh Of Relief

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You know, there's that belief in sports that when your team is on a roll, things just tend to break your way. And last night Republicans pulled out victory even in a state where they were bracing for the worst - Kansas. It's a deeply conservative, red state where budget cuts and some other issues had two prominent Republicans in trouble. But GOP Senator Pat Roberts hung on, and Governor Sam Brownback pulled out his race as well. NPR's Juana Summers is in Topeka.

JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: No one would've guessed that Kansas would keep the political world at the edge of its seat. But the Senate and governor's races here were tighter than expected, leaving voters at the Republican election party here in Topeka sweating as they waited for returns. When it was all said and done, Brownback took the stage victorious.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

GOVERNOR SAM BROWNBACK: I feel like the end of a 15th round of a Rocky match.

(LAUGHTER)

SUMMERS: What had been a tense night turned into a party. Champagne corks popped, people took off their shoes and started dancing, and there were high-fives and chants.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) USA. USA.

SUMMERS: After the big speech, Brownback wandered through the crowd, thanking the voters who had turned out for him. When voter Janie Welsch spotted Brownback, she ran into his arms and gave him a big hug.

JANIE WELSCH: Congratulations.

SUMMERS: She drove more than six hours from Sublette, Kansas, to Topeka to be here on election night. Welsch said she knew Brownback would win all along.

WELSCH: I had confidence because I know the people of Kansas love Governor Brownback. I know other people had doubts, but I knew he loves his country, he loves his family, he loves God and the people of Kansas. I knew we'd support him in the end.

SUMMERS: Now that they've made through the election and Republicans have a majority in both chambers of Congress, it's time to celebrate.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Four more years. Four more years.

SUMMERS: Juana Summers, NPR News, Topeka. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.