Huffpost Politics

Erich Bishop, Former Kansas Legislative Candidate, Arrested On Assault Charges

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A former Kansas state House candidate who narrowly lost a state legislative primary to Kansas' leading anti-gay Democrat has been arrested on a series of charges, including domestic battery and assaulting a police officer.

Erich Bishop, a 28-year-old nursing assistant from Hutchison, Kan., was arrested in a Christmas Eve domestic disturbance, the Hutchison News reported. Bishop is alleged to have engaged in domestic violence against an adult man and woman at a private residence. The Hutchison News reported that details have not been released due to the nature of the allegations. Bishop, who was characterized as "unruly" when taken into custody, is also charged with kicking a Hutchison police officer during his arrest.

Bishop is being held on $1,000 bail and faces a court hearing later this month, the Hutchison News reported.

Bishop narrowly lost the August Democratic primary to Rep. Jan Pauls (D-Hutchison) by eight votes, following a campaign that centered largely on Pauls' deep-seated opposition to gay rights in the state. Bishop was supported by the Kansas Equality Coalition during his campaign against Pauls, who wrote the state's gay marriage ban and led an effort to keep the state's sodomy ban on the books.

The Equality Coalition had previously sought to remove Pauls from the ballot when she changed her legal residence to an abandoned church after redistricting put her home outside the district she had represented. A Republican-controlled state board allowed Pauls to register her legal residence in the church.

In a June interview with The Huffington Post, Bishop stressed that while LGBT issues formed part of his campaign, he was also focused on property tax relief and Pauls' support for lowering corporate taxes in the state. He said that many of his views were formed in response to his father's membership in the KKK while he was growing up, noting that it gave him a commitment to civil rights. Bishop stressed his father has since left the KKK.

"I grew up in a very strange environment," Bishop told HuffPost in June. "Really it was the contradiction of those values in my household, and my coming out and realizing that I was gay that steered me to a more progressive line of thought."

Bishop noted that he only came out to his family earlier this year.

Following her narrow defeat of Bishop in the primary, Pauls defeated Republican Dakota Bass, a 20-year-old railroad conductor who had co-chaired a statewide progressive group with ties to the state Democratic Party, for the House seat.

The Pauls-Bishop-Bass race was part of a series of jaw-dropping headlines in a bizarre year in Kansas politics. Others included a Libertarian candidate for Congress who legally changed his name to Thomas Jefferson; a Westboro Baptist Church member who ran for the state Board of Education on an anti-evolution and anti-fornication education platform; a bitter civil war between moderate and conservative Republicans that paralyzed state government; the state Objections Board briefly allowing a birther case to proceed; singer Cher tweeting that the Kansas Republican Party was "beneath slime"; and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) being forced to apologize for skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galliee.

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