Wichita — A write-in campaign is under way for Mary Douglass Brown, a conservative member of the Kansas State Board of Education who was defeated in the Aug. 1 Republican primary.
Brown was among six board members who voted last year for new science standards that played down the teaching of evolution. She was one of three board members voting for the standards to lose her re-election bid.
Brown's campaign manager, Paul Ackerman, said he hopes the grass-roots effort will be enough for Brown to challenge and perhaps defeat Republican Carol Rupe and Democrat Dick Williams in the Nov. 7 general election.
Ackerman said he decided on a write-in effort because he received many calls after the primary. He is coordinating efforts to identify potential supporters for Brown and direct them to write in her name. The goal is to bring 25,000 to 30,000 write-in votes.
"It's a long shot. But a write-in is a legitimate effort, and it gives people a voice," he said.
Brown isn't so optimistic.
"Oh heavens, I doubt it," said Brown, describing any write-in victory as "a sheer miracle."
But she does think the write-in campaign, which she said she is not involved in herself, indicates that a significant number of voters are displeased with the primary results.
"I think they want to make a statement, if nothing else," Brown said.
Rupe, who edged out Brown by 783 votes out of 16,911 cast, said she expects the write-in effort to most affect her.
"I think it could split up Republican votes," she said. "Why would the Republicans want to help the Democrats?"
Williams said the defection of voters for Brown might help him because the district has a tight party split, with 39 percent of the voters identified as Republican and 33 percent identified as Democrats.
But, he said, "going door-to-door, the people who identify themselves as Brown supporters have indicated they did not plan to vote, at least in this race."
Ackerman said the write-in campaign is being done because the science issue, "for a minority of us, is an important one."
With either Rupe or Williams, Ackerman said, "evolutionism is going to be taught as gospel truth in classrooms" rather than as a theory.