GOP Husband, Democratic Wife Vie for Kansas House Seat
A husband and wife are running for the same Kansas House seat. Or, maybe they’re not.
The candidates say they offer legitimate political differences. Their conservative critics say it’s a campaign dirty trick.
Jeff Ippel is a Republican, involved in a three-way primary race for a seat in the Kansas House. His wife, Pam, is unopposed in the August Democratic primary — for the same seat.
Pam Ippel, whose platform emphasizes health care and funding for education, said she was the first to enter the race for an open seat from this Kansas City suburb. “The more Jeff thought about it, the more he thought he’d have a better chance,” she said. Better ideas,” said her husband, who is running on a platform of smaller government and fewer illegal immigrants.
Other Republicans accuse the Ippels of working as a team. “Personally, I think it’s a fraud. It’s a deliberate strategy of confusion,” conservative Republican Jeff Colyer said. He says their real goal is to siphon away votes from his campaign to ensure the nomination of a GOP moderate, Sherrelyn Smith. “It’s an absolute sham. They’re trying to confuse voters and manipulate the process,” agrees Republican state Rep. Eric Carter, who is giving up the seat to run for state insurance commissioner.
If we were to take the Ippels at their word, they are both very creepy and rather demonstrably unqualified for office. Even the most honorably run political races are intensely personal; there’s simply no way that running against one another wouldn’t damage the relationship. If they both feel strongly about running for political office, the obvious solution would be to seek different offices.
It’s much more likely that the Colyer-Carter thesis is correct. If so, it’s sleazy but hardly unprecedented. Most voters are woefully uninformed, so they’re easy prey to name recognition confusion. It’s not entirely clear to me, though, why Ippel would draw votes away from the conservative candidate and thus favor the moderate; the opposite strikes me as more likely.