Brandon Whipple, the Democrat attacked by the Tea Party for not having children, easily defeated his opponent to win a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives.
Days before the election, Kansans for Liberty, a Tea Party group in the Wichita area, distributed a piece of literature to houses across the district questioning how Whipple, 30, could represent families when he does not have children. Whipple and his wife, Chelsea, have been trying to conceive, according to Whipple.
Whipple, who defeated Republican opponent Rick Lindsey, 58 percent to 42 percent on Tuesday, said the literature provided a last-minute push for the couple. "What that did was fire us up more," he told HuffPost. "It was the first piece that was offensive. It was directed to us as a team."
Whipple noted that he received a series of phone calls and emails of support from voters after the flyer was distributed expressing support for him and his campaign. Whipple also believes the literature stopped momentum for the Republican side. Among the calls he received were from people who told him their own stories about trying to have children.
Lindsey stressed to HuffPost that he did not know the literature was being developed and denounced it. Lindsey, who is also childless, noted that Craig Gabel, the head of Kansans for Liberty, used a similar attack on him when Gabel ran against him in the Republican primary.
"I reject the message sent out in my district," Lindsey told HuffPost. "It is a disgraceful action on the part of the person who sent it out."
Lindsey said that while it is hard to determine the exact impact of the piece, he believes it hurt his chances. "I am sure it didn't help me even though I wasn't involved," he said. "It was so negative that it drew negative attacks. That can't help."
Gabel declined to be interviewed by HuffPost about the impact of the literature piece. "I'm not talking to you," he said Friday morning.
In comments to HuffPost earlier this week, Gabel described it as an "educational piece" about Whipple. In addition to the childless issue, the piece criticized Whipple for only teaching in public schools, not having his name on his house deed and for saying his marriage into a Republican family taught him compromise. Whipple called the first two accusations "lies," and noted that he had taught at private colleges and put his name on the deed earlier in 2012.
Gabel also said that the issue was one of experience. He cited issues like the desire to have neighborhood schools, Whipple's calls for increased school funding and the ability of parents to spank their children. "Someone who does not have kids and does not sweat blood thinking they can't spank them -- if you don't have kids, you don't understand that," Gabel said on Monday.
Whipple said he is prepared to move on from the attack and focus on his work in Topeka. Among his priorities are constituent services and fighting for middle class issues. He cited concerns that the tax cuts signed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) earlier this year could lead to property tax hikes to fund public schools, which he said would hurt senior citizens and young families in his district.
Looking back on the race, which included attack ads from Republicans comparing him to President Barack Obama, Whipple said the experience brought him and wife closer together. "It is surreal right now, it still hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "Looking back at the attacks against us and how much money was poured into our opponent. At times, for me and my wife it felt like it was just us."