Second Democrat to enter race for Congress in Kansas 3rd District

01/20/2014 1:09 PM

01/20/2014 1:09 PM

Former Kansas state senator Kelly Kultala, a Democrat, said Monday she will run for the House seat now held by U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican.

She’s expected to officially announce her candidacy Tuesday.

Kultala, 55, is a political veteran. She served four years in the Kansas state senate, losing her bid for re-election in 2012. She also ran for Kansas lieutenant governor in 2010, on the Democratic ticket, and lost.

“I’m disgusted with what’s going on in Washington, D.C. right now,” she said. “Washington D.C. is broken, and Kevin Yoder is part of the problem.”

Yoder, 38, said Monday he’s ready for the challenge.

“Washington is a mess,” he said. “My job is to get up every day and try to fix it, try to make it a little bit better.”

Yoder was first elected to Congress in 2010, replacing Dennis Moore, who retired. He did not face a Democratic opponent in 2012.

While Kultala will be considered a serious candidate in the race, she faces a formidable challenge in November if she makes it through the primary.

Yoder, who lives in Overland Park, had almost $1.8 million in his campaign fund at the end of September, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. That’s considered a healthy sum in the 3rd district, which includes all of Johnson and Wyandotte counties plus a portion of Miami County.

Additionally, state figures show, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district.

In 2012, there were 191,677 registered Republicans in Johnson and Wyandotte counties, compared with 131,906 Democrats and 140,476 unaffiliated voters.

Republicans outnumber Democrats in Miami County by more than a two-to-one margin.

Kultala, who lives in Kansas City, Kan., isn’t the only Democrat interested in Yoder’s seat. Reginald Marselus of Lenexa filed for the seat a year ago, which means a contested August primary if both remain candidates.

Marselus could not be reached for comment Monday.

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