Challenger to Kan. Ed Board Member Spends Nothing
by John Hanna, AP Political Writer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP)—A Republican who wants to oust a Democratic incumbent from the Kansas State Board of Education has raised almost nothing and said Wednesday that he plans to spend no money.
GOP challenger Jack Wu’s contest against Democrat Carolyn Campbell previously garnered attention because of Wu’s ties to an anti-gay Topeka church known for picketing military funerals.
Wu said he’s always planned to spend nothing campaigning in the 4th board District in northeast Kansas. Reports filed by Wu with the secretary of state’s office show that through Saturday, he collected $5 in cash contributions, received $9.99 in donated goods and services and spent zero.
“I don’t like asking for money,” Wu said. “It’s not my style.”
Campbell filed a finance report this week showing that her campaign has been far more typical. She has raised more than $16,000 so far this year in cash and spent about $12,300 through Saturday, almost all of it in the past three months. The majority of Campbell’s spending, about $7,500, came earlier this month for cable television advertising, as her campaign used a spot noting Wu’s ties to Westboro Baptist Church.
The Topeka church, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., has waged an anti-gay campaign that’s included pickets across the nation, and it argues deaths of military personnel are God’s punishment for tolerance in the U.S. of homosexuality. Wu is not a member, but he attends services, describes people in the congregation as friends and says on a website that he was drawn to Kansas from California in 2008 by the church’s message.
Wu also has said he wants to end the teaching of evolution in public schools, describing the theory as “Satanic lies” on his website. Campbell favors the state’s existing science standards, which treat evolution as a core, well-established scientific concept, and the board is expected to update the standards next year.
Kansas GOP leaders and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback have publicly repudiated Wu over his ties to Westboro. Wu called the snub “insulting” but said he’s never planned fundraising.
He also said he was put off by the idea of putting out signs and handing out fliers because, “It does create a lot of trash.”
Campbell did not return a telephone message seeking comment Wednesday, but Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon said Campbell can’t assume rank-and-file voters know about Wu’s affiliation with Westboro. Wagnon said in Kansas, where registered Republicans significantly outnumber Democrats, people tend to vote along party lines when they know nothing about candidates in down-ballot races.
“The reality is, for a Democrat in Kansas, you have to campaign,” Wagnon said. “There are a certain number of people who will vote Republican, no matter what.”
Five of the board’s 10 seats are on the ballot this year, with members serving four-year terms. Two other races are contested.
In the 2nd District in the Kansas City area, Republican Steve Roberts of Overland Park has reported spending about $9,900 on his campaign through Saturday, with most of his funds coming from loans by himself or his spouse to his campaign. Democrat Cindy Neighbor of Shawnee has spent about $6,100, relying on nearly $3,300 in personal loans to her campaign.
In the 6th District of northeast and north-central Kansas, Democrat Carol Viar of Salina has spent almost $8,000 through Saturday, loaning her campaign $2,500 and receiving an $850 contribution from her husband. The Republican, former state Rep. Deena Horst, also of Salina, had been financing her run with $3,000 in personal loans through late July, but a later report for her wasn’t available Wednesday.