A longtime conservative Republican leader has switched his party registration in hopes of setting up a general election face-off with state Sen. Mark Buhler, a Republican from Lawrence.
The conservative -- Jim Mullins of Lawrence -- is a former president of the Kansas Republican Assembly and a former two-term chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party.
Mullins, 63, said Wednesday that he changed his affiliation to the Reform Party so that he could run against Buhler on Nov. 2. He said he thought he had a conservative candidate lined up to face Buhler in the August GOP primary, but that person backed out too late for Mullins to replace him as a Republican challenger.
But Mullins said he hadn't changed his allegiances.
"I would vote with the conservative Republicans" if elected, Mullins said.
Mullins said he opposed Buhler, 49, because the freshman senator voted against a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and voted for tax increases for public schools.
Mullins said he opposed same-sex marriage and that Kansans had a right to decide the matter by voting on a constitutional amendment, just as they had been allowed in the past to vote on other "quality of life issues," such as gambling and liquor by the drink.
He said schools should be "fully funded" but within existing revenue. He said savings could be found in the school system by consolidating districts and reducing administrative expenses.
But before a general election matchup can materialize, Buhler faces Don Johnson, 50, a Lawrence businessman, in the Aug. 3 GOP primary.
On the Democratic side, Marci Francisco, 54, a former Lawrence mayor, faces no primary opposition.
Mullins said if elected he would remain with the Reform Party.
"You dance with who brung ya," he said.