Here's your tone-deaf candidate of the week: Steve Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald is the Republican running against incumbent Kansas state Sen. Kelly Kultala. On Friday, October 26, he took part in a candidate forum in Leavenworth, put together and moderated by Ernest Evans, a political science professor at Kansas City, Kansas, Community College. At the end of Fitzgerald's remarks, the candidate asked the audience if there was anything else they wanted to ask him.
"When did you stop beating your wife?" Evans asked, off-camera.
"Who said I stopped?" Fitzgerald replied. Some members of the crowd laughed and applauded as Fitzgerald then left the podium.
"Forum went well," Evans told us Monday in an e-mail confirming that his was the joking voice. "Both Fitzgerald and Kultala on their good behavior!"
But neither man looks good coming out of this one. Evans made a bad joke that leaves us longing for the quiet reserve of Jim Lehrer. And Fitzgerald took the bait on a textbook loaded question, with a response that — especially in this election season's "legitimate rape" climate — wasn't just unfunny but offensive.
This isn't the first time that he has gone rogue at a candidate forum. Earlier this month, he told a meeting of the Polish American Club that Democrats cannot be Christians.
"My main point is that the Democratic platform and policies nationally are an attempt to redefine marriage in effect to say what Christ has said about marriage is a lie," Fitzgerald told the Huffington Post. "Christ said marriage is between one man and one woman and the Democratic platform said that it's not true. So therefore, my point was that one cannot support the Democratic platform and be a follower of Christ.
"The contention that I said that one cannot be Catholic or Christian and a Democrat is not an unreasonable summation of what I actually said," Fitzgerald continued. "My actual message was fix the party or leave."
The fear of eternal damnation didn't sway the Polish American Club, which endorsed Kultala.
Fitzgerald didn't return a call from The Pitch earlier this month. Gov. Sam Brownback's office didn't have a comment on Fitzgerald's views on the religion of Democrats, and we're guessing it's also going to let this episode go by in silence.