Editorial: Derek Schmidt still needs to answer why he funded attacks on religious conservatives

It looks like Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt wants to run state-wide in 2010, for Secretary of State.  He’ll face the well-respected former state Republican party leader and constitutional scholar Kris Kobach, along with another tough challenger, J.R. Claeys.

There are many policy-related reasons for Republican voters to be skeptical of of Senator Schmidt.  But there’s at least one rather odd piece of baggage carried by Schmidt that is particularly troubling:  in 2008, he approved of the donation of thousands of dollars of Senate Republican Leadership PAC money to a far-left group called The Kansas Traditional Republican Majority (KTRM), which then, without real evidence or without any later apology, labeled as “racists” former Republican Congressman Jim Ryun (then in a close primary with now-Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins), former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, and the Family Research Council (FRC), along with the FRC’s leader Tony Perkins.

KTRM’s views are extreme, without a doubt, but its supporters, while small in number, are relatively influential and have close political ties to Schmidt, and to the other two state senators who operate the Senate Leadership PAC (President Steve Morris and Vice President John Vratil).  In other words, it would be tough for Schmidt to claim that he didn’t know what he was getting into when directing thousands of dollars to the group.

It’s tough to know where to begin with such an absurd attack on religious conservatives.  It sure doesn’t seem like a way to gain the affection of Kansas’ Republican primary voters.

If Schmidt wants a promotion to a state-wide office, he needs to explain his support of KTRM.

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