Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Conservatives grab fund-raising edge

July 28, 2004


— Conservative candidates in two State Board of Education races were outspending their moderate Republican opponents, with the board's ideological balance at stake in the Aug. 3 primary.

According to campaign finance documents filed with the secretary of state, challenger Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, had raised almost twice as much money since the beginning of the year as incumbent Bruce Wyatt, of Salina, in the 6th District race. Martin raised $22,962 and spent $16,572. Wyatt raised $12,107 and spent $11,633.

In the 10th District, incumbent Steve Abrams, of Arkansas City, raised $5,327 and spent $3,507. His challenger, Tim Aiken, of Derby, raised $3,705 and spent $2,167.

The campaign finance reports cover activity from Jan. 1 through Thursday.

No Democrat filed in either district, meaning the primary will determine who wins each seat.

Martin and Abrams' contributors included John Calvert, manager of the Kansas office of the Intelligent Design Network, which advocates the teaching of creationism alongside, or instead of, evolution in the science classrooms.

Calvert, of Lake Quivira, contributed $500, the maximum allowed, to Martin's campaign and gave $200 to Abrams.

Martin, a former science teacher, has made teaching creationism and not raising taxes a focus of her campaign.

In addition to Calvert's contributions, Abrams and Martin received donations from Freedom In Academic Research, an organization associated with the Kansas Republican Assembly. The assembly represents conservatives and advocates for smaller, less intrusive government and lower taxes.

Both Abrams and Martin received $500 from FAIR's state political action committee and $500 from its federal PAC.

Aiken and Wyatt have received contributions from teachers' unions. Both received $500 from the Kansas National Education Assn., while Aiken received another $500 each from two Wichita NEA groups.

Wyatt also made a $1,000 loan to his campaign.

The primary could change the ideological split among the 10-member State Board of Education, currently split 5-5 between conservative Republicans, including Abrams, and a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, including Wyatt.

Conservatives had a majority but lost it in 2000, when moderates were elected in response to the board's 1999 decision to reduce the emphasis state science standards place on evolution.

In 2002, conservatives regained some ground, unseating two moderates in the GOP primary.

In June, ideological differences resurfaced as Abrams and other conservatives sought to modify state social science standards to put greater emphasis on U.S. and Kansas government and economics and less on international relations.

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