3rd District campaign calls on women for support base

Window on the West

Opinion column

by Mary Rupert

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., reported $2 million cash on hand to spend on his campaign at the end of 2013, according to campaign finance reports.

One of his Democratic challengers is Kelly Kultala of the Piper area of Kansas City, Kan., and I did not see any campaign finance reports for her on file yet at the federal level. But her fundraising has begun, and Kultala’s campaign treasurer, former Mayor Carol Marinovich, has been sending out fundraising emails.

One fundraising email, sent in late March to potential contributors who are women, was titled “Beyond the Boys’ Club,” and appeals to women, saying Kultala will focus on the “fight for equality and issues important to Kansas women and families.”

Kultala’s campaign manager, Jacob Becklund, began working a few weeks ago, having formerly worked for campaigns in Virginia and Colorado. He said he expected to see a lot of women supporting Kultala in this campaign.

So far Kultala is the only female in the campaign for 3rd District. Kultala will face Democrat Reggie Marselus of Johnson County in the primary.

One of the unexpected results of the Kultala fundraising email is that Unified Government Commissioner Ann Murguia has been getting a lot of emails forwarded to her from her acquaintances asking questions such as, “Can this be done?” That’s because the fundraising email is signed “Carol Marinovich, Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government,” not using the word “former” Mayor Marinovich.

Becklund said the title may have been an oversight on their part, and he added that many people keep their titles when they leave office.

That’s generally correct as many news stories often refer simply to “President Carter,” for example, instead of “former President Carter,” assuming that everyone knows he is a former president.

Titles, though, have been a big issue this year at the Unified Government, where a commissioner allegedly was using his title while conducting personal business, which is not allowed by the UG’s Code of Ethics. After glancing at the Code of Ethics, I saw this rule clearly does not apply to people who are no longer in office, so it would have no effect in this instance.

There’s no question that nearly all regular voters should know that Marinovich hasn’t been mayor since 2005, when Joe Reardon was elected, and that the current mayor is Mark Holland, who became mayor in 2013.  Those who don’t know who the mayor is probably will not be voting, anyway.

Marinovich was the first woman elected mayor of Kansas City, Kan.-Wyandotte County, and Kultala will be trying to be elected the second woman serving in the U.S. House from the 3rd District in Kansas. Jan Meyers was the first.

It will be hard to tell what Kultala’s biggest obstacle will be – whether it is that she is a woman running for office, whether it is that she is a Democrat in a district where there are a lot more Republicans, or whether it is that she is from Wyandotte County when most of the district’s voters are in Johnson County. But it now appears she has some skilled persons working in her campaign that will give her a fighting chance.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@wyandottepublishing.com.

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