The Republican Party of Kansas is mailing out fliers warning voters that ISIS terrorists might be their "new neighbors" the Witchita Eagle reported this week.
One of the fliers sent to homes in east Wichita's House District 88 shows a dark-skinned man wearing a head-scarf and clutching an AK-47 assault rifle in front of an ISIS flag and a windmill, with the caption "Have you met the new neighbors? ISIS is not going away anytime soon."
The back of the mailer touts the campaign of GOP Rep. Joseph Scapa, noting he supports funds for police to "recognize and deal with foreign and domestic threats to our state, from those who support ideologies that are in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and our Kansas values."
Another mailer juxtaposes a picture of a small child and an older male relative with the caption "What is ISIS? Will they hurt me?"
In an atypically frank interview, Kansas Republican Party executive director Clay Barker said ISIS was a "positive issue" for Republicans.
"We did polling and focus groups, and the one issue that got overwhelming positive response and was associated with Republicans was safety," Barker told the Eagle. "You know, Gitmo, that article that came out back in August that ISIS had named soldiers for assassinations, police being shot and those knuckleheads in Garden City, it all kind of added up to a security issue ... the whole feeling that's there violence out there. And it's a positive issue for Republicans."
While Barker told the paper the mailers were a reference to the possibility of moving suspected terrorist detainees from the much-maligned prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, that message is certainly up to interpretation. Outside of a failed bomb plot only indirectly connected to the terrorist group and that was closely monitored by federal agents, there have been no reports of ISIS activity in Kansas.
But several weeks ago, the FBI busted a far-right, anti-Islam group calling itself "the Crusaders" in Garden City, Kansas, who plotted to blow up a mosque and apartment building inhabited by Somali refugees — the "knuckleheads" referred to by Barker. The conspirators planned to strike after the Nov. 8 national elections and to kill as many Muslims as possible.
Scapa's opponent and Democrat Elizabeth Bishop told the Eagle, "I think it's indicative that my opponent has nothing else to say, nothing else to talk about ... Look at what happened in Garden City. I think it feeds into that."