Literature dropped off at homes in Wichita Saturday by Kansans for Liberty, a Tea Party group, says that Democrat Brandon Whipple should not be elected to the state House because he has no children. It is one of a list of reasons why Whipple, 30, should not be elected over Republican Rick Lindsey in the newly drawn district, according to the literature.
"Can someone with no children really understand your family's needs?" it reads, with "no children" written in red.
Literature can be found here.
Whipple denounced the literature as "extreme" and said his wife, Chelsea, takes an active role in the race. Kansans for Liberty does not fully understand his situation, he said. "It is a personal attack," Whipple told The Huffington Post. "It offends me because my wife and I are trying to have kids."
Craig Gabel, the head of Kansans for Liberty, stands by the literature, saying that the perspective of a person changes when they have children and that is why the line was included. "If you have no experience in an area, it is hard for you to make informed decision in an area," Gabel said.
Gabel said this includes parents wanting neighborhood schools and the ability to spank their children without fear of state officials. "Someone who does not have kids and does not sweat blood thinking they can't spank them -- if you don't have kids you don't understand that."
The piece also criticizes Whipple's experience as a public school teacher, calling him a career government employee, and attacks him for not having his name on the deed to his house. It calls the candidate's beliefs into question, saying Whipple told a neighborhood group that while he is a Democrat, he married into a Republican family and "learned to compromise."
Whipple countered that while he has taught in the public schools, he has been teaching in private colleges since his unsuccessful 2010 state House race and that he placed his name on the house deed earlier this year. "It is filled with lies," Whipple said of the literature. "It is flat out lies."
The no-children argument has been used several other times in political races. In Kansas in 2008, state Rep. Sean Gatewood (D-Topeka) was noted in literature for not having children at the time. In Westfield, N.J., in 2009, Democratic town Councilman Tom Bigosinski used the no-children issue against his Republican opponent Keith Loughlin during the pair's only debate. Bigosinski, who lost the race to Loughlin, later explained he wasn't trying to be derogatory, only pointing out an "important distinction."
"There are profound differences between the two of us," Bigosinski, then 41, said in the debate against Loughlin, who was 31 at the time. "Unlike Keith, I'm a husband, I'm a father, I'm a homeowner and I'm a taxpayer and I have been for many years."
The Whipple attack comes the same week that Kansas Republicans sent out a mailer in a Wichita state Senate district questioning why Democrat Keith Humphrey changed his last name from DeSoto when he was 11. Humphrey, a candidate for state Senate, changed his name after he was adopted by his stepfather. Whipple's district overlaps Humphrey's.
Whipple said he believes Gabel and his group have moved the debate to a new level. "If you want to attack me for my personal stances on property taxes that's one thing," he said. "But an attack on not having kids takes it to a different leve