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Kansas Rep. Pauls joins Republican Party

May 30, 2014 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House member is leaving the Democratic Party to seek re-election as a Republican, citing what she calls Democratic hostility to her opposition to abortion and gay rights.

Jan Pauls, of Hutchinson, announced her decision Friday as legislators formally ended the 2014 session. She was first elected to the House in 1992 and says she hasn’t changed politically, but that Democrats have.

Pauls cited the influence within the Democratic Party of Tom Witt, executive director of the group Equality Kansas. Witt once sought to have Pauls censured by party officials over her positions on gay rights.

Witt says he will work to prevent her re-election to the House.

Pauls was joined for her announcement by House Speaker Ray Merrick, other GOP legislators and state Republican Chairman Kelly Arnold.