The United Methodist pastor who won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday believes the high voter turnout for the failed Value Them Both amendment helped his campaign.
The Rev. Dr. Mark Holland received 96,832 votes, or 38% of the Democratic votes in the primary, more votes than the next two of the six contenders for the nomination.
“We felt like we did very well and exceeded what we had hoped for,” Holland said Wednesday morning.
The 53-year-old Holland will face U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican seeking his third term.
Holland was on the same ballot as the Value Them Both amendment, which could have led to the restriction of abortion rights for women in the state. That was rejected by a 59%-41% margin.
“What this vote yesterday shows is that the overwhelming, bipartisan rejection of this abortion amendment that was manipulatively conceived and placed,” Holland said. “You saw a new generation of Kansas leadership across the political spectrum from Democrat to Republican to unaffiliated, really step forward and say, ‘We’re done with the extremism.’ That’s where I think Jerry Moran is out of touch and out of step with common sense Kansans. That’s the kind of leadership people are looking for and that’s the leadership I plan to provide.”
Holland, an elder since 1994, served Wathena-Elwood Community Church in northeast Kansas from 1996 to 1999, and was pastor of Kansas City Trinity UMC from 1999 to 2018. The third-generation Methodist pastor served six years as Wyandotte County Commissioner and was mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, from 2013 to 2018.
Since 2018, he has been the founder and executive director of Mainstream UMC, an advocacy group supporting the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ persons.
He said his experience as a pastor and leading Mainstream UMC has given him skills to run for U.S. Senate.
“It’s helped a lot, particularly around the abortion issue, because a lot of people are tired of being ‘faith-shamed,’ that good people think this and bad people think that,” Holland said. “I can work with people who are left or right of center. If you can’t see the center from where you’re standing, you’re probably in the wrong place.”
Holland said his ability to bring both sides together is evident with Mainstream UMC.
“We built a coalition of people left and right of center who wanted to hold the church together with this central premise: Can you live with people with whom you disagree? The question we’ve been asking the church for the past four years is the same question we’re asking Kansans and our country right now,” he said. “The simple answer is yes, but the extremists don’t want that. They want to divide us and pull us apart where we need to stand strong.”
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