Two Gay Candidates Are Competing in Kansas to Defeat an Anti-Gay Republican

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This is happening in Trump’s America. Two gay men are independently vying to become the first openly gay members of the Kansas Legislature.

Twenty-seven year old Brandon Woodard of Lenexa, Kansas is now a candidate for the 30th District House seat. But first he must claim the Democratic nomination over an earlier entrant into the race, freelance web producer Matthew Calcara of Olathe — who also happens to be gay.

Both men will face off in Johnson County’s Democratic Party primary, which could result in one of them becoming the first openly gay member of the Kansas Legislature.

Woodard told The Kansas City Star that he’s running “because I don’t feel that our current representative is doing a very good job. I think that I want to run for Statehouse because I want to work for my neighbors and represent them in Topeka.”

Both candidates seem aware that wresting the seat away from Rep. Randy Powell, an Olathe Republican will be no easy task. Powell has already filed for re-election.

Incumbent Powell is widely regarded as one of the Kansas body’s most conservative members. Last year, for example, he devoted significant time and effort into passing a resolution condemning pornography as a threat to public health.

For the moment, Powell has adopted a cavalier attitude toward his challengers, and believes that each one is likely tapping into the other’s support and donations, thus splitting his opposition. “It would seem if they`re aligned in their philosophies that one would get behind the other,” the lawmaker said, “not compete against the other. So it’ll be interesting to see how they differ in their convictions and perspectives.”

Sparks are already beginning to fly between the two Democrats. A Calcara statement alleges that Woodard “represents the establishment of the Democratic Party, while our campaign harnesses the energy of progressive principles.”

“Our campaign has been working diligently, meeting constituents, recruiting volunteers and registering voters in anticipation of the fall contest with ultra-conservative state Rep. Randy Powell,” the statement concluded.

As a University of Kansas grad who was born and raised in Topkea who now works as a college fundraiser, Woodard says running because “I’ve been in Kansas my whole life; worked and paid taxes here for ten years. And I think this is the best next step for me to make a difference in Kansas. Obviously I think that LGBT people deserve representation in Topeka, in the Statehouse, but I’m running for a number of reasons.”

Last modified: April 3, 2018

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