Wonder Woman and a man who wears a boot on his head have had an outsized impact on efforts to unseat Kansas’ attorney general, incumbent Republican Derek Schmidt, in November.
The only Democrat challenging Schmidt’s re-election, Sarah Swain, has faced mounting pressure from her party’s leadership to quit the race over a poster in her law office depicting Wonder Woman lassoing a police officer around the neck.
Law enforcement groups including the Kansas State Troopers Association have criticized Swain’s poster, making the memorabilia in her law firm’s office a hot-button campaign issue—particularly in light of the deadly shooting of two Wyandotte County sheriff’s deputies last week.
Swain, a solo criminal defense attorney from Lawrence, said neither the Kansas Democratic Party nor the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) were willing to support her candidacy before the June 1 filing deadline. She decided to run anyway, and she sounded defiant on Thursday.
“This isn’t a spectacle to me,” Swain said. “I didn’t throw my hat in the ring as some Donald Trump side-show circus freak. … I want to have a real conversation about these things.”
The Kansas Democratic Party publicly condemned her candidacy after the Wonder Woman poster became public, stating that “promotion of violence against law enforcement officers disqualifies Ms. Swain from serving as Kansas’ chief law enforcement officer.”
Asked whom Kansans should vote for to serve as attorney general, DAGA did not identify the only Democratic candidate running on the ballot.
“As in every state, the attorney general should be the people’s lawyer—the person people can trust to protect and defend them and the law,” said Sean Rankin, DAGA executive director, in a statement. “Voters should elect the candidate who will put people over politics and protect their rights.”
Swain said she had the controversial poster made after she became disillusioned with Kansas law enforcement, particularly resulting from her experience representing Kyler Carriker, who was found not guilty of murder in 2015.
While Swain has taken the poster down from her office “for the moment” and has issued a statement sounding apologetic for its message, she defended her intentions on Thursday.
“To me what that poster stands for is the idea that at the heart of our criminal justice system lies the idea that it is of utmost importance that every single person who takes the witness stand tells the truth,” Swain said. “And [whether it’s] Wonder Woman or Sarah Swain or whoever it is, the attorney you choose to represent you will have to use the lasso of truth to make it happen.”
Swain said she did not yet know how she would run her campaign this fall without any institutional support from the Democratic Party. She said she feels Democratic Party leaders are intent on smothering the “very important dialogue” she wants to create.
At least for a time, an even unlikelier challenge to Schmidt’s re-election was being mounted by Vermin Supreme, a performance artist who wears a boot on his head. Supreme gained attention for his 2016 presidential campaign in New Hampshire seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination, where he promised to be “the only candidate who is willing to fully fund time travel, go back in time and kill baby Hitler with my bare hands before he’s even born.”
Kansas’ State Objections Board decided earlier this week that Supreme could not run as a Republican for attorney general because he does not reside in Kansas.
Supreme, who hails from Massachusetts, requested “hopes and prayers” from supporters on Twitter ahead of the board’s ruling. Following the judgment against his candidacy, Supreme said the “real losers” were the “people of Kansas” and “democracy.”
“You should have sent more thoughts and prayers,” Supreme tweeted.
Unlike Supreme, Swain is still poised to appear on a ballot opposite Schmidt in November.