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Kansas incumbents snubbed by endorsements

7/17/2012

TOPEKA (AP) -- Some Republican incumbents for House and Senate seats are dismayed that the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life has not endorsed them, despite their records on the issue.

TOPEKA (AP) -- Some Republican incumbents for House and Senate seats are dismayed that the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life has not endorsed them, despite their records on the issue.

The Topeka Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/Lmr8zn ) reports Tuesday that redistricting that placed two or more House or Senate incumbents in the same district has complicated the endorsement process.

That's the case for Republican Rep. Trent LeDoux of Holton and Rep. Richard Carlson of St. Marys, who are competing for the 61st District in northeast Kansas. Kansans for Life endorsed Carlson over LeDoux and Daniel Brenner, also of Holton.

LeDoux said he's a staunch supporter of anti-abortion measures and Kansans for Life shouldn't have picked sides in a primary with multiple candidates who share the organization's views.

"Either endorse them both, or stay out of it," LeDoux said. "Kansans for Life has marginalized themselves. But my commitment to the pro-life cause is not going to be weakened at all."

David Gittrich, the group's state development director, said a number of factors were at play, including voting records, bills introduces, questionnaires from candidates and interviews with local chapter members.

"It was obviously chaos," Gittrich said. "It was difficult with several incumbents who we like being in the same races."

In one case, the group made an endorsement while noting the other candidate had a voting record the organization favored.

LeDoux was appointed to Rep. Rocky Fund's seat in the House after his death at the end of the 2011 session. LeDoux touts his voting record and effort to pass a "personhood amendment" that would have granted rights to any fetus or embryo the same as any Kansas resident.

Gittrich said Carlson had a longer voting record than LeDoux, whom Gittrich said missed votes on legislation the group sponsored because he was hospitalized with a life-threatening pancreas ailment. Gittrich said the group generally favors incumbents.

"I can't help it he was sick. I can't help it he couldn't get to the House for a vote," Gittrich said.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said LeDoux's personhood measure wasn't one of the group's bills, which didn't gain him any favor.

"That is not our legislation," Culp said. "Strategically, we don't agree with it."

The group also endorsed Rep. Larry Powell, a Republican from Garden City, in his challenge of Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican.

"Actually I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record," Morris said. "All I know is they were probably told to do that by Americans for Prosperity or the governor's office."

Morris is one of eight Senate Republicans identified by the conservative Americans for Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce as targets for defeat this election cycle. Kansans for Life officials deny working with either group in making endorsements.

"I haven't received a dime from Americans for Prosperity," Culp said. "I haven't spoken to anyone from the governor's office about these races. There's always people that tell you they wish you'd do this or they wish you'd do that. That does not mean we're going to do it."

Gittrich said Morris wasn't always enthusiastic about Kansans for Life's bills.

"Although he's got a nice voting record, he's done just about everything short of throwing our bills in the trash to kind of kill them," Gittrich said. "After a while, we had enough of that."

Culp said other incumbents didn't win their endorsement based on votes on other bills, such as proposed changes in the way judges are selected. She said the organization had to be selective.