House candidate receives death threat

Dan Manning

Dan Manning

District 91 Democratic House candidate Dan Manning said he came home from work early Saturday morning and found a death threat clipped to the outside of his apartment door.

The note was created with letters cut from newspapers and other publications, and it noted that he’s a candidate for the House. It said “Will DIE,” “Kill,” “MURDER” and “Head OFF.” It also used two derogatory references to homosexuality.

Manning said he checked his doors and windows to make sure he was safe. He said he immediately reported the note to Wichita Police. Wichita Police Capt. Joe Dessenberger said police opened an intimidation case on it. The case is temporarily closed while the letter is being checked for finger prints, he said. No witnesses or suspects have been identified, he said.

“If their point was to intimidate me, they did,” Manning said in an interview today. But he said the intimidation dissolved over the course of about half a day. “The only thing it really accomplished was to strengthen my resolve.”

Manning is openly gay. He is a board member of Knights Out, a group of West Point alumni, staff and faculty who support the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers to openly serve in the military. He graduated from West Point in 2004.

Manning said he doesn’t hide his sexual orientation, but he said it’s not central to his campaign. Voters care about jobs, education and the economy, he said.

In a note on its web site, the Kansas Equality Coalition posted a copy of the death threat and said Manning has had his sexual orientation used against him. “Dan not being able to count on the support of his own Democratic Party is another thing altogether. Dan has even had party officials suggest that he hide his own sexual orientation and spend the campaign in the closet.”

Manning said the state party has never told him to hide his sexual orientation. But he said that some elected Democrats have quietly urged him to hide that he is gay. He declined to cite any names.

“They just think it would be better for me and better for Kansas politics if I didn’t make it known,” he said. “I have more faith in the people in my district and the people of Kansas.”

The Kansas Democratic Party has no policy or stance on whether candidates are openly gay.

“We support Dan and any candidate regardless of sexual orientation and regardless of whether they’re open about it,” said Kenny Johnston, executive director of the state party.

Johnston said he sees the threat as another example of how politics have become increasingly combative and nasty. “Especially in recent years, our politics have gotten to be increasingly nastier and more personal and less about the issues,” he said.

Manning faces incumbent Republican Rep. Brenda Landwehr in the Nov. 2 general election.