Larry Meeker, Kansas Democratic Party chairman, stepped down just hours before the beginning of the DemoFest convention in Wichita Aug. 21.
Meeker resigned following pushback over his comment about rebranding the message the state party presents. He said he would suggest emphasizing that the state party is much more conservative than the national party.
“We’re looking to re-message how we speak about our party and our issues,” Meeker said about rebranding the party on Wednesday, according to the Wichita Eagle. “At the end of election cycle, as you well know, we are Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Obamacare, Obama, anything bad they can figure out going on in Washington, and the Republicans brand us. That’s not who we are. Kansas Democrats are very different from Massachusetts Democrats or California Democrats.”
Meeker’s suggestions raised heavy criticism and offended many party members. Tom Witt, executive directory of Equality Kansas and a member of the party, said he disagreed with Meeker’s views about broadening the platform to sway on edge conservative members. Witt said Meeker should read the party’s platform and review its goals.
“I look forward to supporting a chair who will support our party’s platform,” Witt said to the Lawrence Journal-World Friday.
While some party members criticized Meeker, others said they understood Meeker’s intentions.
“It’s just a fact of political life,” Democratic Sen. David Haley, of Kansas City, Kansas, said to the Wichita Eagle. “The Kansas Democratic Party in its core values is more conservative on various issues than the national Democratic Party.”
The committee will meet Oct. 3 in Salina to select a new chairperson. First Vice Chair Kathryn Focke, of Manhattan, will serve as interim chair until then.