By Simina Mistreanu
Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker has endorsed Jean Schodorf in her re-election bid for the Kansas Senate.
She is running against Wichita City Councilman Michael O’Donnell in the Republican primary in District 25 in central-west Wichita.
“I believe Jean to be the best qualified candidate, based on her experience as a state senator and school board member, as well as her considerable skill in finding solutions to difficult problems by working with people,” said Kassebaum Baker, according to a release by Schodorf’s campaign office.
Schodorf said Kassebaum Baker’s endorsement is a positive event in a “very negative” race.
“This is just another example of somebody recognizing that we are talking about issues, about what’s good for Kansas and Wichita,” Schodorf said. “I don’t know how it will affect the race except that Nancy is very well respected and I hope that people will at least read what she has to say.”
O’Donnell said endorsements don’t affect political races considerably.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Senator Kassebaum would endorse a candidate that has voted to raise taxes numerous times and supports President Obama’s health care plan,” he said. “I’m more interested in receiving the endorsement from the good people of the 25th Senate District.”
O’Donnell also pointed out that he received campaign contributions from prominent business people and groups in Wichita.
Kassebaum Baker’s endorsement might not change people’s minds, but it could convince voters who were planning to stay at home during the primaries to go out and vote for Schodorf, said Mel Kahn, a political science professor at Wichita State University who is a Democrat. Kassebaum Baker served as a U.S. senator from Kansas between 1978 and 1997. Among the issues that she supported were education and access to affordable medicines. “I would say she is probably the most popular Republican in Kansas in the last 40 years,” Kahn said. “She’s not as prestigious as Senator (Bob) Dole, but she was more popular. She was so popular that after the first term she just used the name ‘Nancy’ on her advertising.” The categories of voters Kassebaum Baker might appeal to are women, moderate conservatives, people who oppose Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies and people who feel strongly about education, Kahn said.