Politics & Government

Former Wichita news anchor among Democrats running for Kansas Legislature

Justin Kraemer
Justin Kraemer File photo

Justin Kraemer, a former Wichita news anchor who gained notoriety for cursing on air, wants a seat in the Kansas Legislature.

Kraemer worked as a reporter and later weekend anchor for KSN from 2008 through 2013. He lost his job when an open microphone caught him saying to his colleagues “Let’s get the (expletive) out of here” at the end of a Saturday night newscast.

“It’s been a long year and half since that whole incident happened and it’s given me a lot of time for personal reflection and trying to figure out the best way to move forward from here as far as what I want to do next,” he said.

What he wants to do next is unseat Republican Rep. Steve Anthimides in House District 98, which covers parts of south Wichita and Haysville.

Kraemer, a native of upstate New York and graduate of Syracuse University, came to Wichita in 1999 to work as a journalist, living here through 2001 and then returning in 2008. He said he talked to thousands of Kansans while he was a journalist and knows the issues they care about.

Kraemer, who is running as a Democrat, said his main issue is tax fairness. He criticized Anthimides for voting to raise the sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent during the most recent legislative session, while keeping an income tax break for business owners intact.

Kraemer said that because of the notoriety of cursing on air – an incident many found similar to a scene in the Will Ferrell movie “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” – some people might look at him as a protest vote. He’s OK with that. He said that unlike most novice politicians, he won’t have trouble with name recognition.

“I’m not proud of it, but it happened and whatever name recognition I built up from it I hope to be able to use that for something good,” Kraemer said.

Kraemer has struggled to find full-time work since he was fired, which he said has given him perspective on what many Wichitans are going through after layoffs in aviation and other industries.

“I know firsthand it is extremely difficult to find meaningful work in Kansas. Albeit my situation is a little bit different from most, but I still understand the anguish and pain of going through these ads and looking for a job to support your family,” he said.

Another Wichita Democrat announcing her candidacy this week – ahead of the party’s annual Demofest convention – is Elizabeth Bishop, co-founder and former director of the Wichita Independent Neighborhoods. She will challenge Republican Rep. Joseph Scapa in House District 88 in southeast Wichita.

Bishop called herself a “grassroots person.” She’s a regular presence at neighborhood association meetings. She said if elected she plans to stay connected by meeting constituents each weekend at Prairie Donuts, “making that connection with citizens, many of whom are kind of scratching their heads and wondering what on earth the Legislature could be thinking about with some of the policies that have come down recently.”

Bishop worked as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Dan Glickman, a Democrat who represented the 4th Congressional District, during the 1970s and 1980s, advising him on policies related to social services.

She and her husband have five children, 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren – almost all of whom live in Wichita. She said one granddaughter is starting kindergarten this year and another is studying to be an English teacher at Emporia State University.

This is not the first time Bishop has pursued a seat in the Legislature. She ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, in 2008.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.