MainStream Coalition, Kansans for Life at odds over local candidates in April election; both groups doing mailers

The Kansans for Life mailer from the primary election that makes note of the abortion issue in municipal and school board elections.

MainStream Coalition and Kansans for Life, through their political action committees, both have endorsed candidates in northeast Johnson County for the April elections – and they are diametrically opposed in their views on who should be elected. Both also have sent out mailers to voters supporting their candidates.

Roeland Park has the only NEJC municipal election caught up in the dueling mailers. The MainStream PAC has endorsed Michael Poppa, Erin Thompson and Blake Morgan for contested council seats. Kansans for Life has endorsed their opponents: JoAnna Rush, Linda Mau and Tim Janssen. For the Shawnee Mission School Board, Kansans for Life only endorsed Mark Ellis while MainStream endorsed both Sara Goodburn and Brad Stratton.

“They are definitely in the opposite camp,” said Kansans for Life Executive Director Mary Kay Culp, speaking about the MainStream Coalition. Culp said her organization, which focuses on pro-life advocacy and issues, has been involved in local elections for years. She cited KFL support of successful candidates in the last two special elections for Roeland Park Council and last year’s Mission mayoral election.

“People can use their offices to endorse other candidates and move up the ladder,” Culp said, explaining why the group gets involved in city elections that might not be seen as a pro-life issue. School board candidates, she said, have more direct influence because of school sex education policies.

Brandi Fisher, Executive Director of MainStream Coalition says her membership spreads across the middle of the political spectrum and includes members with pro-life and pro-choice views. The group does support a woman’s access to reproductive services.

MainStream makes a point of the difference from KFL in the questions it uses to endorse candidates. “MainStream is a multi-faceted organization that covers multiple issues,” Fisher said. MainStream even posts the candidate questionnaires used by both groups for municipal endorsements. The KFL questions exclusively revolve around pro-life questions while MainStream questions cover local governance issues, Fisher points out. “We try to stick to our issues,” Culp said. The Kansans for Life site also posts a separate questionnaire for school board candidates.

Besides whom they choose to endorse – at least in this election cycle – the two organizations follow a similar procedure to make their choices: send each candidate a questionnaire and have a committee review the answers to determine who should get the nod for the campaign.

The two groups are so much at odds in their endorsements that the KFL primary mailer noted for some candidates it endorsed that their opponent was “endorsed by MainPAC, part of the very pro-abortion MainStream Coalition.” Culp says being endorsed by MainPac does not automatically lead to a KFL endorsement, it still depends on answers on the questionnaire.

The two groups have made endorsements in other April elections, including the Johnson County Community College race (where they both endorse David Lindstrom) and several school board and municipal elections outside of NEJC – where they continue to disagree on each position.