A local Republican official roundly criticized a defeated GOP candidate's endorsement of the Democratic candidate for an East Lawrence seat in the Kansas Legislature.
"Dirty, back room politics."
That's what the chairwoman of Douglas County's Republican Party said Wednesday about a defeated GOP primary candidate's endorsement of Democrat Troy Findley for the Kansas House 46th District seat.
Clenece Hills, who lost the Aug. 2 Republican primary for the 46th District seat to Republican Eric Schmidt, confirmed Wednesday that she re-registered as an unaffiliated voter on Oct. 11 and has decided to back Findley. Libertarian Ena Wheeler is also running for the East Lawrence seat in the Kansas Legislature.
Susan Smith, the county's GOP chairman, said Hills' action was a "betrayal" of the Republican Party.
"This is an action reminiscent of a spoiled child who, after not getting her own way, picks up her toys and says that she is going to play somewhere else," Smith said in a prepared statement.
"One has to question Hills' real intentions for running in the first place," Smith said. "Was she simply a Stealth Democrat in Republican clothing?"
Hills said she couldn't back Schmidt because they disagreed on abortion.
"I cannot support him because of his pro-life stand," she said.
Hills also said she realized during the primary campaign that she didn't agree with the Republican Party's views and she announced during a forum before the primary she would leave the party.
Hills said Findley asked her about two weeks ago to support him in an upcoming newspaper advertisement with this statement:
"As an independent voter, I look at my options carefully. I will vote for Troy on Nov. 8 because he is not obligated to special interest groups. I believe Troy will maintain his integrity and his independence as a thoughtful member of the Kansas Legislature."
The Republican Party chairwoman also criticized Findley for accepting the endorsement.
"What kind of a candidate would seek and/or welcome the endorsement of someone who betrayed their own party?" Smith said. "Findley is a political opportunist and needs an endorsement from anyone, even a sore loser."
Findley said he was pleased to get Hills' support.
"And I think it speaks to my ability to reach across party lines and build coalitions," Findley said.
Hills said she recently told Schmidt she planned to back Findley.
"I know Clenece has been under a lot of stress," Schmidt said. "I think it's sad when someone like her is pushed into this. Clenece was confused from the beginning about her party affiliation, so it's not a total surprise."