Kansas House Candidate Hails From ‘Little House’

Posted July 17, 2010 at 3:04pm

A little-known House candidate in Kansas has a unique claim to fame: She co-owns the site of the “Little House on the Prairie.”

State Sen. Jean Schodorf (R) is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), who is contending for an open Senate seat. Now representing urban Wichita, Schodorf grew up in Independence, a town of 9,000 residents in the southeastern part of the 4th district.

With her brother Bill Kurtis, who produces the series “American Greed” for CNBC (and was a narrator in the movie “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”), Schodorf co-owns the former Independence home of author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Their grandfather bought the land without knowing that it had belonged to the Ingalls family, and he passed it down to their mother. In the 1970s, a family friend discovered it had been the site of the real “Little House on the Prairie.”

“In 1976 and ’77 we decided to build a replica just like the book, so the Jaycees volunteered to help us build this cabin, cut down the trees down by the creek,” Schodorf recalled. “We read the book and built the cabin as close to the book as possible.”

Schodorf was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday raising funds and awareness for her campaign. The Aug. 3 Republican primary is likely to determine the next House Member from the 4th district. A state Senator since 2001, Schodorf is running in the shadows of Mike Pompeo and Wink Hartman. The two businessmen have lit up the Wichita airwaves with attacks against each other, leaving Schodorf and two other Republicans relatively unscathed.

Schodorf, who entered the race last fall, has raised $64,000 throughout the course of the campaign, and she ended the second quarter with $17,000 on hand. Hartman has raised $1.4 million and Pompeo has raised $886,000, according to their most recent Federal Election Commission reports.

Earlier this week, former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R) endorsed Schodorf, and on Friday, Schodorf’s campaign released a Jayhawk Consulting Services poll that showed her in close contention for the seat. Hartman received the support of 19 percent of likely Republican voters, Schodorf got 18 percent and Pompeo got 16 percent. Four hundred voters were surveyed on July 15, and the poll had a level of confidence at 95 percent. Nearly 40 percent of respondents were undecided.

State Rep. Raj Goyle and 2008 nominee Donald Betts will compete in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary, but the seat is considered a likely GOP hold. Advance voting by mail has already begun in the primaries.