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Becker, Doll, Hineman come under attack

6/1/2014

By MARY CLARKIN

Special to The Hays Daily News

HUTCHINSON -- Three western Kansas House members -- Reps. Steven Becker, R-Buhler, John Doll, R-Garden City, and Don Hineman, R-Dighton -- did not have election challengers as of Wednesday. A conservative Republican in Wichita, however, is trying to change that.

A single newsprint sheet -- "Kansans for Liberty News" -- was distributed in some Hutchinson-area neighborhoods recently, encouraging conservative Republicans to run for the Kansas House of Representatives.

"These are eight of the most 'progressive,' 'liberal' Republicans in the 2013 and 2014 legislatures," the sheet says of the targeted incumbents. Besides Becker, Doll and Hineman, the others named are: Reps. Melissa Rooker, Fairway; Blaine Finch, Ottawa; Diana Dierks, Salina; Don Hill, Emporia; and Tom Moxley, Council Grove.

The sheet cites the legislators' votes on Common Core Standards, gun issues, abortion, religious freedom, Medicaid and renewable energy. It also offers help for conservatives willing to enter a race.

"Should you decide to consider running for any of these positions (or others) we would be glad to assist you in any way possible. We will walk you through every step to get signed up. Provide you with templates for signs and palm cards. Even help with volunteers to get your message out," the sheet says.

Hineman said it appears efforts by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce to find conservatives to challenge him and others have not been successful, so another attempt by another entity is underway before the filing period closes at noon Monday.

"The Chamber PAC is dedicated to supporting pro-growth, pro-business candidates who will work to make Kansas the best state in the country to do business and create jobs," said the Kansas Chamber's Christie Kriegshauser.

"The Chamber PAC is not in any way affiliated with Kansans for Liberty," Kriegshauser said.

Becker had not seen the sheet. When told of the others named, Becker said, "That's a good list of my closest friends."

"I do receive a lot of positive feedback for my service," Becker said. If he's challenged in the primary election, he said, "I'm prepared."

"I looked at it and didn't pay a lot of attention to it," said Doll, although he didn't like the photo of him used by Kansans for Liberty News.

Doll said he considers himself "a localist" on issues, determining first how it will affect Garden City, and then how it will affect the state.

The sheet was "Published for Kansans for Liberty by RMC Inc. Craig Gabel President."

Gabel and Chris Brown, also named on the sheet, could not be reached by the emails and phone number listed.

A former Kansans for Liberty politicial action committee no longer operates, and RMC Inc., a Gabel entity, has forfeited its corporation status in Kansas. Gabel has run unsuccessfully for state and local offices.

Of the eight candidates named, one -- Finch -- had not filed as of Wednesday. Also, Dierks has a Republican challenger in Tom Bell, Salina.

Carol Williams, executive director at the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said those engaging in express advocacy have to file campaign expense reports. Those are not due until July.