Kansas Chamber endorses Wichita Republican who opposed chamber-backed bills

08/18/2014 1:37 PM

08/19/2014 7:28 AM

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the only Wichita Republican to vote against a school finance bill that also carried education reforms backed by the chamber.

Rep. Steve Anthimides, R-Wichita, who had no primary opponent, did not receive an endorsement from the chamber’s political action committee when it released its initial list of candidates in June.

However, he was on a list of endorsements for the general election released by the chamber Monday.

Anthimides voted against the bill that added money to address inequities in school funding. It also eliminateed state-mandated hearings before public school teachers can be fired. The chamber had strongly pushed the Legislature to pass a school finance bill that coupled education funding with policy reforms.

Anthimides was passed over for an endorsement by the Kansas National Education Association, the chief opponent of the bill. The KNEA endorsed Democrat Steven Crum, who will oppose Anthimides in House District 98 in November.

Crum, a teacher in Haysville, is a member of the KNEA. Randy Mousley, president of the United Teachers of Wichita, the KNEA’s local chapter, said the union did not receive Anthimides’ candidate questionnaire.

Anthimides also voted against the chamber on another major bill; he opposed a repeal to the state’s renewable energy standards in March.

The chamber did not endorse Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, who also opposed the repeal, for either the primary or the general election. Schwab sent an e-mail to supporters that accused the chamber of punishing him for opposing the repeal.

Schwab voted with the chamber on most other issues, including the school bill.

The chamber says its endorsements are based on which candidates stand for free-market principles, low taxes and limited government.

Anthimides said he was “very pleased to have the endorsement, very honored. ... I’ve always been very pro-business. I think we need to get people back to work.”

In House District 93, the chamber endorsed Republican John Whitmer over Democrat Sammy Flaharty after originally supporting Rep. Joe Edwards, R-Haysville, who was defeated by Whitmer in the primary.

The chamber endorsed Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election over Democratic challenger Paul Davis.

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