August 6, 2008

Finney Beats Taylor in 84th House District

By Christina M. Woods and Jeannine Koranda, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.

Aug. 6--Gail Finney, a marketing consultant and vice chair of the Sedgwick County Democrat Party, beat out medical assistant Inga Taylor for the 84th District House seat.

It was one of the more clear-cut victories in primaries in the Wichita area for three open House seats.

Finney won the 84th seat despite Taylor raising roughly $10,000 more, some of which was due to an influx of donations from Victory Fund and an affiliate, Kansas for a Diverse Voice at the Table, which supports openly lesbian and gay people running for public office.

Taylor, who has run for office before, said the financial support was about making sure she had enough money to get her message out.

"I wasn't running on, 'Hey, I'm gay,' " said Taylor."... It always has been about the issues."

Because there is no Republican challenger, Finney's win means she will represent the area spanning from roughly Second and Washington to East 21st and Woodlawn in Wichita.

With three vacant House seats up for grabs during the primary, voters such as Freddie Foust welcomed the newcomers.

"We need some new faces," said Foust, who cast his ballot at Edgemoor Recreation Center for Finney, one of the newcomers.

81st District

In Belle Plaine, financial counselor Peter DeGraaf celebrated his victory in maintaining the 81st District Seat, which covers parts of southern Sedgwick and northeastern Sumner counties.

DeGraaf, who opposes a casino in Mulvane, captured just more than 50 percent of the votes. In the field of five Republican candidates, his closest challenger, retired teacher and Mulvane Center director Jeri Anderson, earned about a third of the votes.

"It's an incredible victory," DeGraaf said. "It speaks highly of the desire of folks in Mulvane and conservative voters to not have a casino at Mulvane Exit 33.

DeGraaf, who raised $11,030 for the race -- more than all of his challengers combined -- was appointed to the seat in May after longtime Rep. Ted Powers died of a stroke.

The vacancy created the most contested House race in the state, with five Republicans jockeying to run against Mulvane Democrat Mark Hardison in November.

93rd District

Dan Kerschen, a dairy and grain farmer from Garden Plain, led the field in the Republican primary for the 93rd District House seat, formerly held by Rep. Dick Kelsey. Kelsey's senate bid left vacant the seat, which covers part of Kingman County and southwestern Sedgwick County.

Kerschen was leading in a three-way race late Tuesday ahead of Carl Koster and Barbara Walters.

"I knew it would be close," Kerschen said, adding that he and Koster live in the same neighborhood.

"That diluted the vote quite a bit to her (Walters') advantage," Kerschen said.

Walters offered her congratulations to Kerschen, despite the outstanding vote tallies.

"From all the information I have at this point," Walters said, "it's definitely pointing to a win for Dan. He's a great guy."

Kerschen will face Democrat Joann Keiter in November.

96th District

In the Republican race for the 96th District, which covers part of south Wichita, Phil Hermanson, 43, a Realtor, pulled ahead of opponent Mark Gietzen, who did not campaign.

He faces Democrat Terry McLachlan in November.

77th District

In the Republican race for the 77th District seat, covering southwestern Butler County, physician David Crum won by a large margin over veterinarian Gary Dale Harmon among tallied votes.

Reach Christina M. Woods at 316-269-6791.


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