Kansas Democratic Chairman steps down due to controversial comments

Brenden Williams

Kansas Democratic Chairman Larry Meeker resigns because of controversial comments said in March.

Democratic Party leader for Kansas Larry Meeker made comments in his short 6 month term about “rebranding” the party; talking about how they were more conservative than the national Democrats.

He compared the party leaders to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, stating they were “the more conservative versions” of the national Democratic icons. The comments were made Saturday, March 22nd, in Wichita, Kansas, while Meeker attended the DemoFest activities taking place.

Meeker had commented to The Wichita Eagle that he was, “looking to re-message how we speak about our party and our issues.”

He had also said the DemoFest 2015 was shaping up to be a “political circus”, talking about an internal struggle over the ideology and direction of the Kansas Democratic Party.

Meeker was recently selected after former party chair Joan Wagnon retired earlier this year. His short term will be followed by the new stand-in party chairwoman Kathryn Focke of Manhattan, who was the state organization’s vice president.

“My priorities may be diverting us from our primary goal of electing Democrats and restoring common sense to Kansas government,” said Meeker when resigning.

The Kansas Democratic Party released a statement following Meeker’s resignation;

Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Meeker announces today that he will resign as party Chair effective as of Monday August 24, 2015.

Meeker states, “Today I respectfully submit my resignation as Chair of the Kansas Democratic Party. My priorities may be diverting us from our primary goal of electing Democrats and restoring common sense to Kansas government. My time as chair has been personally rewarding and has fostered many new friendships. I wish the Party success in the 2016 elections and beyond.”

Kerry Gooch, Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic Party states “I deeply respect Larry’s decision to put the priorities of the Kansas Democratic Party first. It has been a pleasure working with Larry and I will continue working towards our goals of growing and strengthening the Kansas Democratic Party and restoring Kansas values to our state government by electing Democrats.”

Party Vice Chair Kathryn Focke, Manhattan, will serve as intern Party Chair until a new Chair is elected.

While the Kansas Republican Party put this statement on their website following the news;

“The Chairman, Larry Meeker, was a realist. He understood that in a center-right state like Kansas, for the Democrats to have any hope of gaining legislative seats, they had to move to the political center, and position themselves as more conservative than the national party of Pelosi, Obama, and Bernie Sanders. But he ran head on into the cabal of hard core leftists who run the Kansas Democratic Party, the party commissars, and they ousted him. Ideological purity is what matters, deviation from the party line or independent thinking is not welcome. One of the cabal stated ‘moderates are OK, but not in our leadership.'”