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Two Gay Democrats to Vie in Kansas Primary

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Feb 13, 2018

Two gay Kansas natives are now competing against each other to become the Democratic candidate who will run in the general election in an attempt to unseat a Republican incumbent in the state legislature.

The Kansas City Star reported that openly gay candidate Mathew Calcara had entered the race last May. He's facing off with Republican incumbent Randy Powell for the 30th District House seat.

As of Feb. 12, however, Calcara faces another openly gay man as an opponent for the Democratic primary. Brandon Woodward threw his hat into the ring "because I don't feel that our current representative is doing a very good job" and "I want to work for my neighbors and represent them in Topeka."

Powell's notable achievements include a resolution, passed by the Kansas House last year, condemning pornography. A similar resolution passed the Kansas Senate this year, with proponents reportedly claiming that porn is addictive and causes men to lose sexual vitality.

Powell responded to the two gay Democrats' competition in the primary, saying, "It would seem if they`re aligned in their philosophies that one would get behind the other, not compete against the other. So it'll be interesting to see how they differ in their convictions and perspectives."

Both Calcara and Woodard have commented on differences they say exist between the various campaigns.

"This election will provide voters with a clear contrast," Woodard was quoted as saying in a Shawnee Mission Post article. "I'm confident that the people of our district support a shared vision of government that works for all of us and will vote to restore our state after the harmful policies of the failed Brownback experiment."

Gov. Sam Brownback is known for having slashed taxes in Kansas, leaving the state's coffers cash poor. He squeaked to reelection victory in 2014, only to see his tax cuts rolled back by state lawmakers in 2017. Brownback resigned as of Jan. 31 of this year to accept a political appointment from the Trump administration as United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and was replaced by Jeff Colyer.

Calcara took aim at his opponent for the Democratic nod, saying Woodard's campaign "represents the establishment of the Democratic Party, while our campaign harnesses the energy of progressive principles."

At his campaign website, Calcara describes himself as "a 3rd-generation Kansan," and also holds himself up as an alternative to Gov. Sam Brownback's policies. "We need a leader who will stand up to Sam Brownback and his allies in the Legislature to get Kansas back on track," text at the website reads.

Woodard's own online page says that he is "A Kansan born and raised, coalition builder, and proven community leader" who "is running to make our leaders in Kansas more accountable to voters, to invest in education for our future generations, and to restore responsible budgeting to Topeka."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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