A Democratic congressional candidate in Kansas on Thursday defended an endorsement and money his campaign received from Andrea Ramsey, a fellow Democrat who withdrew from the same race amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Ramsey dropped out of the race in Kansas’ 3rd District in December after The Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.
Ramsey strongly denied the allegations and complained that she was a victim of “a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.”
She endorsed fellow Democrat Brent Welder a few days later on Dec. 18, the same day she donated $1,000 to his campaign. Her contribution was disclosed in federal campaign documents filed Wednesday night by Welder’s campaign.
“I am proud to have Andrea Ramsey’s endorsement of my campaign for U.S. Congress in Kansas’ 3rd District against extremist Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder,” Welder said in a statement. “With Andrea Ramsey’s support, we move forward unified as Democrats and stronger than ever in our fight to defeat Kevin Yoder and solve the pressing problems of healthcare and wealth inequality.”
Welder’s statement came after Tom Niermann, another Democrat running in the 3rd District, said Wednesday that no candidate should receive or hold onto money from anyone accused of sexual harassment.
“This is not an issue of party, but of moral leadership,” Niermann said in a statement to The Star. “It’s time for our public servants to lead by example.”
Niermann also recently called on Yoder, the Republican incumbent, to return money Yoder’s campaign received from GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvania congressman who recently announced his retirement after allegations that he’d sexually harassed a female aide. Meehan’s confessions of romantic feelings toward the aide resulted in a taxpayer-funded settlement.
Yoder’s campaign initially declined to comment on the matter. After The Star published an article, his campaign said Yoder had decided to donate Meehan’s contributions to charity.
Yoder has far out-raised all of his potential Democratic opponents, including Niermann and Welder, who have emerged as the top two competitors in Democrats’ 3rd District primary race after Ramsey’s exit. Yoder is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
His campaign raised more than half a million dollars in the last three months of 2017, more than the quarter of a million dollars raised by the entire Democratic field combined in the fourth quarter. Yoder reported $1.75 million in the bank.
“Democrats are panicking today,” CJ Grover, Yoder for Congress spokesperson, said in a statement. “They’re probably confounded as to why Kansans aren’t responding positively to the party that calls $3,000 bonuses, minimum wage increases, and new benefits packages ‘crumbs.’ ”
Among Democrats, Niermann raised the most money in the fourth quarter and ended the year with the most cash on hand. The teacher received $139,493 in contributions and has $184,832 in the bank.
“Yoder’s biggest vulnerability as a career politician is having to face off with a career educator who already has thousands of energized Kansans at his back,” said Niermann’s campaign manager, Zach Helder, in a statement.
Welder, a labor lawyer and national workers’ rights advocate, raised $125,051 in the fourth quarter, bolstered by a $34,000 loan from the candidate himself. He had $178,872 on hand going into 2018, and received an endorsement this week from Laborers International Union of North America.
“Our simple message of offering a fair deal to everyone, including a $15 minimum wage and Medicare for every man, woman and child, has attracted a broad base of support,” Welder said. “We see this support every day with the many volunteers who are pitching in to defeat right-winger Kevin Yoder and our median contribution of $25.”
Deaf rights activist Chris Haulmark, another Democrat vying in the primary, raised $5,349 in the fourth quarter of last year. He had $4,784 on hand at the end of the year.
Jay Sidie, a businessman who ran against Yoder in 2016, raised just $644 in the fourth quarter. He has $47,394 in the bank, but his campaign is $22,800 in debt.