Amid allegations of emotional abuse, Kansas Democrat should consider suspending campaign

Democrat Chris Haulmark, running for a seat in the Kansas House, has been credibly accused of emotional abuse and manipulative behavior by three women, who have spoken to The Star on the record.

Democrats say they’re withdrawing their support for Haulmark based on the allegations. It’s the right decision for the party, and officials deserve credit for acknowledging the seriousness of these potentially disqualifying accusations.

Tonia Jimmerson, one of the women, says she dated Haulmark for three years. “During this time, I experienced financial abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse,” she said.

Haulmark disputes the specifics of her claims and those of other women. In an email to The Star’s editorial board, he blamed opposition from some members of the “deaf community” for his troubles. Haulmark is deaf.

“I have an added responsibility to represent the national deaf community,” he said. “In doing so, there have been some individuals in that community who are outspoken and have attacked me, my character and my campaign.”

Yet Haulmark has admitted mistakes and says he suffers from borderline personality disorder. “I haven’t always been the best boyfriend, husband, co-worker, or friend,” he said in a social media post.

Haulmark’s behavior should be an important factor in voters’ decisions. Candidates and other public servants must be judged on their entire record, including their interactions with friends, family and even acquaintances.

Politicians, like all of us, are far from perfect. Yet the nation is awakening to an important fact: Those who would make the laws must demonstrate respect for others at all times, not just when they’re in the spotlight.

That’s true of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, and it’s true of Chris Haulmark. He can’t be removed from the November ballot, which is regrettable, but he should consider suspending his campaign. If Haulmark needs additional counseling and help, he should seek it.

What he can’t do is ask voters to overlook his troubling behavior and the claims of women who have known him. That’s why Democrats have stepped away from his candidacy and why voters should consider doing the same.