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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sedgwick County Republican Party censures Jim Skelton for supporting Democratic candidate

By Deb Gruver
The Wichita Eagle

The Sedgwick County Republican Party has censured Commissioner Jim Skelton for supporting a Democratic candidate for office.

Skelton, a Republican, recently said in an Eagle story that he was giving a nod to Democrat Tim Norton, the District 2 county commissioner, over challenger Ben Sauceda, a Republican.

Sauceda is secretary of the county party. He said the resolution passed at a meeting Thursday night “came from the floor.”

Skelton called the censure “political hogwash.”

“I just think it goes to show you the childish nature of this far-right uncompromising ideology,” he said.

Stressing that he was speaking as a candidate and not a party official, Sauceda said he was disappointed in Skelton’s comments in the July 1 Eagle story. Skelton said, “I would worry about the community as a whole if he (Sauceda) were to be elected. I want people on the board who are going to be working for their constituents, not working against the government. I don’t want to work with someone who every time you turn around, they’re voting against something.”

Sauceda said Skelton had not talked to him personally about his viewpoints.

“He should at least talk with an individual before blasting them like he did in the paper,” Sauceda said. “I’m not saying he has to agree with me, but I would appreciate the respect of having an open dialogue.”

The resolution reads: “Whereas, Jim Skelton, an elected Republican official in Sedgwick County, who has benefited from the support of the Sedgwick County Republican Party, has publicly supported a Democratic candidate over a Republican candidate for election to the Sedgwick County Commission. Be it resolved that Jim Skelton be censured for this action.”

Sauceda said Treatha Brown-Foster, chairwoman of the Kansas Black Republican Council and a precinct committeewoman, offered the resolution.

“I was very surprised,” Sauceda said. “I was handling another part of the meeting when it came up.”

Skelton, who was not at the meeting Thursday, called the resolution “irrelevant. I know where I stand with my constituents.”

He said he was not going to worry about an action taken by “amateurs.”

Bob Dool, chairman of the county Republican Party, said the vote was nearly unanimous, enough that a voice vote was sufficient. He estimated about 75 people attended the regular monthly meeting. Those meetings are open to any registered Republican, he said.

The censure does not come with any specific penalties, he said.

Although members are asked if there is any business they want to bring up, “I don’t recall a motion such as this in the past year or so,” he said.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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