Letters to the Editor

Litmus test

July 22, 2008


To the editor:

Freedom of speech and association are rights beloved by all Americans and guaranteed in our Bill of Rights.

The conservative Republican faction in Kansas demands litmus tests on its members such as being anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and pro-gun. They also enforce a rule that disallows anyone who supports a Democrat or any other candidate. The conservative leaders' absolutism has led to defections from their party and dissatisfaction from mainstream voters.

Unfortunately, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Senate Democratic leader Anthony Hensley are resorting to similar tactics within the Kansas Democrat Party by imposing a litmus test that tramples on the right to free speech and association.

State Sen. Mark Gilstrap, a 12-year incumbent from Wyandotte County, is a conservative Catholic Democrat who is staunchly opposed to abortion and tax hikes. His voting record demonstrates his personal beliefs on these issues and, having been elected three times, he is clearly supported by the people he represents.

In 2006, Mark Gilstrap chose to support the re-election of former Attorney General Phill Kline, a choice that did not sit well with the Sebelius or Hensley. They have adopted the tactics of conservative Republicans by supporting Gilstrap's opponent in the Democrat primary. While I personally disagree with Mark's choice of Kline, I adamantly support his right to associate and vote for whom he wants

The absolutism of the governor and Hensley impinges on Gilstrap's rights, is divisive within the Democrat Party, and tramples the American ideal of freedom of speech and association.

Sen. Chris Steineger,
Kansas City, Kan.


dirkleisure 9 years, 9 months ago

That's a myth.The Governor and legislative leaders regularly endorse primary candidates. What really upsets you is that it is happening in the Democratic party, and that it is the individuals Kathleen Sebelius and Anthony Hensley.When it happens in a Republican primary with a Republican Governor or a Republican legislative leader, which is much more frequent, it is no big deal. After all, the old line is in Kansas elections are decided in the Republican primary.Ironically, the majority of people who are most flustered here are ones who will never be voting in a Democratic primary, will never support Kathleen Sebelius, and will never support Anthony Hensley.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 9 months ago

What a silly letter. Their supporting another Democrat is doing nothing but exercising their own freedom of speech. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Gillstrap will still be able to say what he wants, and associate with whom he wants.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 9 months ago

a politician whining about politics...typical...

cato_the_elder 9 years, 9 months ago

Hell no, Bozo. What the Governor and Mr. Hensley are doing is as brazen as what Phill Kline himself would do, and directly represents the type of attitude that has severely harmed the Kansas Republican Party. If you knew anything about Kansas politics, Bozo, and the Ohio-bred iron fist that the Governor wields over her party, you might understand how courageous this letter is. In the meantime, the Governor and Mr. Hensley are demonstrating that their vision for their party is no more one of "inclusion" that the Kline wing of the Kansas Republican Party wants theirs to be.

oldnavychief 9 years, 9 months ago

Governor Sebelius ran on the same platform she dislikes in Gilstrap??

igby 9 years, 9 months ago

The Gov. and her faction of so called Dems better tread lightly in Wyandotte County. The rug is being slowly pulled out from under her and her supporters. But there's always Ohio; they will elect anyone there.

KS 9 years, 9 months ago

Queen Kathy can't even supoort her own church. What a hypocrite!

dirkleisure 9 years, 9 months ago

I wonder how "courageous" a letter criticizing those who support Phill Kline in his primary against Steve Howe for Johnson County DA would be?I wonder how "courageous" a letter criticizing those who support Jim Ryun in his primary against Lynn Jenkins would be?Criticizing a pair of Kansans for expressing a preference in a primary election is hardly "courageous." I suppose Sen. Gilstrap deserves an endorsement because he is the incumbent?I wonder if Sen. Steineger was facing a primary challenge and Governor Sebelius and Senator Hensley sent out a fundraising letter on his behalf, would he criticize them for taking sides?

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 9 months ago

I think the LJW is about as right-wing as it can get away with and still sell papers in a "liberal" town...but the whole right-wing/left-wing thing misses the point...which is that there aren't many newspapers around that aren't hopelessly lost to the completely faked, sensationalized, useless pillow fight between right and left...but it sells papers...and the online version gives partisan hack commenters a place to imagine that their views are important...

cato_the_elder 9 years, 9 months ago

Senator Steineger, this is one of the most courageous letters we've seen in a long time. By their conduct, the Governor and Mr. Hensley are falling into the same trap into which the Kansas Republican Party has fallen in recent years. Hats off to you - and best wishes to you, Senator Gilstrap, and your other WYCO colleagues in implementing your pro-business initiatives in WYCO, which is continuing to cause an economic renaissance there and is a beacon of hope for those who would like to see Democrats return to practicing common sense and championing free enterprise.

Todd Epp 9 years, 9 months ago

Restore:During most of my voting age tenure in Kansas from 1976 to 1986, I was either registered as a Republican or an Independent.I didn't consider myself a liberal then but I do now. I figured people should know up front what my biases are as a blogger. When I was reporting Back In The Day, I worked hard to make sure I was fair in my coverage of politicians, candidates, and issues. So did my news organizations.And just to confuse you a bit more, I am a pro-choice, pro-open government, pro-LGBT rights, pro-death penalty and pro-Second Amendment rights.Thanks for your comment.Todd EppKansas Watch http://kswatch.squarespace.com

dirkleisure 9 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, sock. You want to make this all about Sebelius and Hensley. My point is Governors and legislative leaders regularly endorse.What would the relevance be of "five" endorsements? Why not ten? Why not three?It is all irrelevant to the point, which is that Governors and legislative leaders from both parties regularly endorse in primaries. That is a point you have no interest in addressing.

dirkleisure 9 years, 9 months ago

Name five Governors since 1974 who haven't endorsed during the primaries.Arguing for agrument's sake isn't very effective, RR. All you've done is make my point that what really concerns you is Kathleen Sebelius, not whether a Governor should endorse.

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