Thursday, August 31, 2006

Red State Politics: Could ultra-conservative Jim Ryun finally be defeated?

By Diane Silver

Yet another darling of the Religious right -- Rep. Jim Ryun -- might be vulnerable this year. It's a long shot, but stranger things have happened.

Once thought unbeatable, Ryun has gotten some attention from MyDD, one of the most well-connected liberal blogs. David Kowalski writes:
Ex-miler Jim was held to 56%, three points behind Bush in this district. Kansas Republicans are splintering with prominent moderates fleeing to the Democrats. Kathleen Sebelius is a strong favorite to repeat as Governor and GOP anti-evolution candidates are finding open opposition not only from Democrats but from Republicans sworn to defeat them. Nancy Boyda makes a repeat run with lower expectations but a great environment (at least for a Kansas Democrat).
Josh at Thoughts From Kansas is also high on Boyda.

Personally, I fall into the anybody-but-Ryun camp on this race. I'm not an enthusiastic supporter of Boyda. She may well be a hold-your-nose choice.

The last time she ran Boyda appeared to be anti-gay, at least in public. Right now Boyda seems to be staying far away from any statement having to do with same-sex marriage or fair laws for all. That, of course, might help her in this conservative district.

The other criticism heard around the district was from political sources. The rap was that Boyda ran an awful, fairly amateur campaign last time. Let's hope she has learned from her past mistakes.

Boyda can't possibly be worse than Ryun, though. I was present at the birth of Ryun's political career in Lawrence in the late 1980s. His first big issue? Opposition to a local ordinance protecting queers against discrimination in housing and employment.

During that fight, Ryun and his wife showed up one night on the porch of the lesbian couple leading the campaign for the anti-discrimination ordinance. The Ryuns were reportedly there to "save" them from their life of sin. The lesbians told the Ryuns to leave, and apparently the only thing that was saved was Ryun's political career.

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