Kansas State Senator Switches From Democrat to Republican Over Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
December 10, 2008
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — A veteran Democratic state legislator switched parties on Thursday from Democrat to Republican because of his pro-life position on abortion. Sen. Mark Gilstrap faced opposition in his primary election from an opponent backed by pro-abortion Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Democratic leader in the Senate.
"I am leaving the Democratic Party of Kansas today, a party that I have served my entire life, because the Democratic Party no longer tolerates dissenting points of view," Gilstrap said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained.
"I dared to cross the Democratic leadership by voting against the party line in Topeka. I voted my conscience on issues like abortion," he added. "For doing so, Sebelius and her allies targeted me for political assassination."
Sebelius supported a liberal challenger against Gilstrap in the 2008 Democratic primary election. Sebelius raised money to defeat Gilstrap, and the Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, hired people to walk Gilstrap’s district to campaign against him.
"I have humbly served Kansas Senate District 5 for twelve years and have consistently kept my eye on what was important for my district and the state of Kansas-even if it meant disagreeing with the governor," he said.
"In today’s Kansas Democratic Party, that is no longer acceptable. Dissenting points of view are not allowed. Pro-life Democrats are particularly despised," Gilstrap complained.
Gilstrap said the Democratic party used to feature a large number of conservatives but that it has become dominated by abortion advocates.
"There used to be such a thing as conservative Democrats in Kansas. But they are rapidly becoming extinct," he said. "The party has shifted radically to the left, and Kathleen Sebelius has led that shift."
Gilstrap has held the Kansas City legislative seat for more than a decade.
After Sebelius came under fire for backing Gilstrap’s opponent, a spokesman said, "The governor wants someone here who shares those priorities."
Gilstrap also came under fire for endorsing Republican Phill Kline for attorney general in his 2006 race against a candidate Sebelius backed who eventually had to resign his position after a scandalous affair.
Mary Kay Culp, the head of Kansas for Life, told LifeNews.com previously that Sebelius is targeting pro-life advocates in the legislature because they have tried to hold her accountable for abuses in the abortion industry.
"Senator Mark Gilstrap is a man of integrity. He is truly pro-life. Governor Sebelius has singled him out for defeat simply because he is pro-life," she said.
Culp said Gilstrap represents the old-style Democrats who valued faith and family above pro-abortion politics.
"The actions of the Governor underscore the fact that the leaders of today’s Democratic party have traded those original Democratic values for abortion industry money," Culp said.
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