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Democrat Sebelius projected to win Kansas governor's race


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TOPEKA, Kansas (CNN) -- Democrats scored a significant victory in Kansas as state Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius defeated GOP nominee Tim Shallenburger to become the state's next governor, CNN has projected.

The latest independent poll showed Sebelius with a double-digit lead in the historically conservative state. Democrats appeared to benefit from a longstanding split within the state between moderates, represented by term-limited Gov. Bill Graves and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, and social conservatives, led by Sen. Sam Brownback.

Shallenburger, the state treasurer who reigns from the social conservative wing of his party, did not draw a firm endorsement from Graves until late September, and only then after a well-documented public struggle. Graves is prevented from seeking re-election due to term limits.

Sebelius, meanwhile, leaned on her solid ties with Kansas' business community and her reputation as a strong fund-raiser.

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