Bitter feud roils Kansas Democrats on eve of fall convention

Kansas Democrats are embroiled in a bitter feud on the eve of their annual fall “Demofest” convention in Wichita as top party officials are now trying to oust the party secretary while the secretary and her allies are fighting back with a series of blistering blog posts.

At the center of the controversy are party secretary Casey Yingling, a Wichita attorney who also operates a political consulting business, and her business partner, Levi Henry, a longtime Democratic activist and union organizer.

In addition to being party activists, Yingling and Henry operate a political consulting firm, Ad Astra Group, which ran James Thompson’s unsuccessful run for the 4th District congressional seat during a special election earlier this year.

According to several sources within the party, Yingling and Henry asked the party to contribute $20,000 to help out that campaign. Party officers met by conference call to consider that request and put it to a vote. Most officers said no, arguing that the party couldn’t afford such a large expenditure. But Yingling, in her position as party secretary, voted yes, despite requests that she recuse herself, since she would have been the recipient of that money.

The special election was held to fill the vacancy created when President Donald Trump named then-Congressman Mike Pompeo to be CIA director. It was one of several special elections around the country at that time where Democrats thought they had a chance to win in Republican territory because of Trump’s growing unpopularity.

It didn’t work out, though. Republican Ron Estes, who was then state treasurer, ended up beating Thompson, 52-46 percent, a much narrower margin than Republicans typically enjoy in the 4th District.

That loss led to back-and-forth allegations about who was to blame, and eventually to the chasm that has now engulfed the upper ranks of the party, and a motion to recall Yingling as party secretary. A vote on that motion will take place Saturday and, according to an…

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