A Republican candidate for the Kansas Board of Education, Jack Wu, who is a member of Fred Phelps' controversial Westboro Baptist Church, is being accused of not knowing where to find the state Capitol building in downtown Topeka.
Wu, who moved to Kansas to join Phelps' church and said he is running because Kansas is "perverse," had an interview scheduled with Brad Cooper, a reporter for the Kansas City Star in the Capitol building when confusion ensued. Tim Carpenter, the statehouse bureau chief for the Topeka Capitol-Journal, wrote that Wu showed up at his newspaper's office looking for Cooper, who does not work there.
Carpenter explains what happened after he told Wu that he needed to head to the Capitol to find Cooper.
Wu asked folks at the Capital-Journal for directions to the Capitol. Not joking. He needed assistance to make his way 0.7 miles from 609 S.E. Jefferson to 8th Avenue and Van Buren Street.
[Carolyn] Campbell, a one-term member of the 10-member state education board, would not need such counsel. She works in the Capitol during the legislative session as receptionist for a senator.
What happens if Wu is victorious and must travel to monthly meetings of the Board of Education? The board tackles management of education policy -- standardized testing as well as science, math and reading curriculum -- at a bland building 0.1 miles from the Capitol. He might get lost.
Campbell, Wu's opponent, did not return a voicemail left for comment at her home. Wu did not return an email request for comment.
Wu has become one of the most controversial candidates seeking office in Kansas this year, writing that he believes teaching evolution is a "satanic lie" that he would stop if elected. He also called Gov. Sam Brownback (R) "a vile Catholic." Brownback is not supporting Wu.
"With the upcoming elections, Jack endeavors to make a difference in this evil city of Topeka and this perverse state of Kansas," Wu wrote on his website. "The students and children of this generation need the light of the scriptures if to correct their erroneous ways."
Wu's candidacy coincides with a bizarre political year in Kansas. This includes the bitter civil war between moderate and conservative Republicans at times paralyzing state government; a Republican-controlled state board allowing the state's leading anti-gay Democrat, Rep. Jan Pauls (D-Hutchison) to declare an abandoned church her house; Pauls defeat of an openly gay son of a former Ku Klux Klan member in the Democratic primary then her race against a pro-gay, pro-choice Republican; a Libertarian candidate for Congress legally changing his name to Thomas Jefferson; U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) admitting to skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galliee during a 2011 official visit to Israel; and the state Objections Board saying it needed more evidence on President Barack Obama's citizenship.
A Topeka judge is scheduled to hear a case on Wednesday regarding Obama's ballot eligibility brought by birther advocate Orly Taitz, after the Objections Board dropped the matter. The birther case led singing legend Cher to tweet that the Kansas Republicans were "beneath slime," and state Rep. Ann Mah (D-Topeka) to accuse Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) of turning the state into "a laughing stock again."
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UPDATE: 6:42 p.m. -- Wu's Democratic opponent, incumbent Carolyn Campbell, told HuffPost late Tuesday afternoon that she found Wu's alleged geographic challenge "amusing." She also questioned his ability to get around the Capitol city.
"I was sort of amused about it," Campbell said. "I have yet to lay eyes on him face to face. As I understand, he has lived here a few years. I was quite surprised that he could not find our Capitol. It is a big building in the middle of Topeka."
UPDATE: 5:26 p.m. -- Wu responded to Carpenter's column Tuesday afternoon by branding the longtime Kansas state government reporter as "a liar," saying the two never spoke.
"Obviously the Capital-Journal has nothing better to do besides spreading malicious office gossip," Wu said in an email to HuffPost. "I didn't even talk to Tim Carpenter that day. And I knew where the Capitol building was, so he's a liar."
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