A last-minute, anti-gay smear campaign will keep Kansas from electing its first openly gay state legislator and America’s first African-American lesbian state legislator.
Inga Taylor, a Victory-Fund endorsee, had outraised and out-organized her opponent, Gail Finney. But Finney and her supporters launched a late mail, e-mail and phone campaign highlighting Taylor’s sexual orientation and contributions to her campaign from the Victory Fund. Finney is the Vice-chair of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party.
One e-mail making the rounds, from Finney supporter Dr. Peggy Elliott, said in part:
“Inga Taylor considers it an honor that if elected, she will be the 1st openly gay African American Legislator in the United States. If you will go to the www.victoryfund.com website, you will see that they are excited about the same and working strategically to ensure that this candidate wins the election on tomorrow evening. Who would she be representing? Those that fund her from the east coast or 84th District? Is this what we want to be known for in Kansas? In Wichita?”
Late Tuesday, when the scope of the anti-gay effort became apparent, Victory Fund president and CEO Chuck Wolfe sent an emergency request to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, asking her as titular head of the Kansas Democratic Party to denounce Finney’s tactics and call on her to remove herself from the race and to step down from her party position. Sebelius did not respond by the time polls closed Tuesday night.
“What’s the matter with Kansas Democrats? We plan for and expect openly gay candidates will face attacks from right-wing bigots, not Democratic party officials,” said Wolfe, adding, “This is divisive, gutter politics at its worst, and Gail Finney should be ashamed of herself.”