Wife of Libertarian for governor speaks out against newspaper’s election coverage

Libertarians Keen and Eileen Umbehr
Keen and Eileen Umbehr

Eileen Umbehr wrote the following letter to Kansas City Star reporter Eric Adler after he wrote an Oct. 5 headline story that neglected to mention her husband, Libertarian for governor Keen Umbehr, who has polled as high as 9 percent and has consistently beaten the spread between his Democratic and Republican rivals.

Dear Mr. Adler,

I respect your right to conclude in advance that my husband, Keen Umbehr, will not win the upcoming Kansas governor’s race. I also respect the Kansas City Star’s right to cover the race however they see fit as I am keenly aware of what they say about those who buy their ink by the barrel.

Much to the chagrin of many, Keen’s entrance in the governor’s race has made it a 3-way competition, thereby lowering the threshold for the number of votes needed to obtain a victory.

But even if you don’t think Keen has a chance of winning, it doesn’t change the fact that his name will appear on the November 4 ballot as a third option for Kansas voters. In my way of thinking, that makes his candidacy newsworthy.

When Jesse Ventura ran for governor as a third-party candidate in Minnesota, no one gave him a chance of winning either — but he did. Here in Kansas, John Carlin and Joan Finney were both outspent by their opponents, and yet they pulled off the upset, running as Democrats in a Republican state, no less. This proves that Kansas voters are fiercely independent and tend to vote for the person and not the party.

And while Keen has numerous policy differences with both of his opponents, he has chosen not to run an “anti-Brownback” or “anti-Davis” campaign. Nonetheless, everywhere he goes he hears Kansans express their dissatisfaction with Governor Brownback. On the other side of the coin, Democrat candidate Paul Davis has to contend with the negative fallout from the Obamacare debacle, the NSA’s violation of our privacy rights, and the IRS targeting of Tea Party organizations. In my opinion, this has created a unique political storm for Kansas — one that I believe makes Keen’s election as a third-party option a very real possibility.

Generally speaking, most people agree that it’s a mistake to presume to predict the outcome of any election. The Chicago Daily Tribune will never live down the time they were so confident of Truman’s defeat that they published the newspaper in advance with the headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman”. No one really knows the minds and hearts of the voters, or how tired they might be of politics as usual and the status quo of the two-party system.

In closing, I would just like to say that Keen and I have faced impossible odds many times before, so this most recent obstacle-filled journey — and the skepticism of outsiders observing our seemingly ill-advised attempt to make an impact in our state — is nothing new to us.

Who would have thought that a trashman with a high school education from a town of 800 would have ever ended up winning a precedent-setting First Amendment case at the U.S. Supreme Court?

And who would have thought that the same man — a former college dropout — could have returned to college at the age of 40, graduated with honors, and gone on to earn a law degree, passing the bar exam on his first attempt?

Miracles do happen, Mr. Adler; we’ve seen far too many in our own lives to believe otherwise.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts.

Eileen Umbehr