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Anti-abortion activist says he would defeat Obama in Kansas

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 22, 2012, at 7:15 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, March 23, 2012, at 12:12 a.m.

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry said he’ll go to court to try to get his name on the ballot in the Kansas Democratic presidential caucus, a day after the state party determined he didn’t meet the qualifications.

Terry, who is running a quixotic campaign against President Obama with the stated goal of weakening the president in the November election, said keeping him off the ballot is a violation of the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court has already ruled you cannot have a litmus test of who can be a candidate and who can be a voter in a primary,” Terry said. “This is like Obama’s pretending he’s Fidel Castro, ‘I won the election and now I’m the only one you can vote for.’ ”

Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, is well-known in Kansas as a leader of the mammoth “Summer of Mercy” protests in Wichita in 1991.

Those demonstrations set Kansas on the long path to now having some of the nation’s tightest restrictions on abortion.

The Kansas Democratic Party, along with the parties in Alaska and Wyoming, have ruled Terry ineligible for their ballots. Kansas is scheduled to caucus on April 14.

In Kansas, Terry failed to meet two mandatory deadlines, one for naming his state representative and another for filing a plan to encourage participation in the caucus by potential delegates, said Democratic Party attorney Joe Sandler.

In addition, Sandler said, the Democratic National Committee ruled Terry “is not a bona fide Democrat, as determined by his actions.”

He said the party is not obligated to give ballot space to those who are “trying to take advantage” of the party.

Terry said the deadlines he missed were not meaningful, because he was planning to act as his own representative in Kansas.

And he said he’s not working against the Democratic Party.

“I’m working against the president,” he said. “It’s in the interest of the Democratic Party for Obama to be defeated. Democrats stand up for the little guy.”

At the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Terry led a small contingent of anti-abortion protesters, using a bullhorn to heckle members of the media who attended an event at the Elitch Gardens theme park.

Terry took 18 percent of the vote in a March 6 primary in Oklahoma, which would have appeared to have qualified him to receive some of that state’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention. However, the Oklahoma party has announced that it will deny Terry any delegates because he didn’t follow the required procedures.

Terry said he thinks he can win the Kansas Democratic caucus if he can get on the ballot.

Because there is no credible challenge to the president for the Democratic nomination, turnout for the caucuses is expected to be light.

Terry said his plan is to recruit independent and Republican abortion opponents to vote under the party’s semi-open caucus rule, which allows all voters to participate by re-registering as Democrats at the caucus site.

“I would … defeat Obama in the state of Kansas,” Terry said. “That’s what they’re terrified of.”

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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