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Second Democrat to enter race for U.S. House in Kansas’ 3rd District

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at 11:27 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at 7:49 p.m.

Former Kansas state Sen. Kelly Kultala, a Democrat, said Monday she would run for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican.

She’s expected to officially announce her candidacy today.

Kultala, 55, is a political veteran. She served four years in the Kansas Senate, losing her bid for re-election in 2012. She also ran for Kansas lieutenant governor in 2010 and lost.

“I’m disgusted with what’s going on in Washington, D.C., right now,” she said. “Washington, D.C., is broken, and Kevin Yoder is part of the problem.”

Yoder, 38, said Monday he was ready for the challenge.

“Washington is a mess,” he said. “My job is to get up every day and try to fix it, try to make it a little bit better.”

Yoder was first elected to Congress in 2010, replacing Dennis Moore, who retired.

Although Kultala will be considered a serious candidate in the race, she faces a formidable challenge in November if she makes it through the primary.

Yoder, who lives in Overland Park, had almost $1.8 million in his campaign fund at the end of September, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

On Monday, Yoder’s campaign said it now had more than $2 million on hand. That’s considered a healthy sum in the 3rd District, which includes all of Johnson and Wyandotte counties plus a portion of Miami County.

Additionally, state figures show, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district.

In 2012 there were 191,677 registered Republicans in Johnson and Wyandotte counties, compared with 131,906 Democrats and 140,476 unaffiliated voters.

Republicans outnumber Democrats in Miami County by more than a 2-to-1 ratio.

Kultala, who lives in Kansas City, Kan., isn’t the only Democrat interested in Yoder’s seat. Reginald Marselus of Lenexa filed for the seat a year ago.

On Monday he said he filed largely because Yoder had no Democratic opponent in 2012. But Marselus said he planned stay in the race despite Kultala’s announcement, which means the two would meet in the August Democratic primary.

“A primary would be a good thing for the party,” he said.

To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send email to dhelling@kcstar.com.

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