State Watch

Kansas lawmaker who left Republican Party launches Senate bid as Democrat

A Kansas state senator who left the Republican Party last year announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat this week.

State Sen. Barbara Bollier launched her Senate campaign Wednesday, running as a "pragmatic" Democrat in a race that features a crowded field of Republicans including former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, according to The Wichita Eagle.

"I'm doing it to be a voice of reason ... Washington is broken right now. It is a mess and I think Kansans deserve a senator who will put politics aside, and I'm all about common ground and common-sense solutions," she told the news outlet in an interview.

"The truth is, as a doctor, I've never really been about partisan labels, just problem solving. And we need more of that right now," Bollier said in a campaign video.

Following Bollier's announcement, Barry Grissom, who served as the U.S. attorney for Kansas under former President Obama, announced he was dropping out of the race and endorsing Bollier, according to The Kansas City Star.

"State Senator Bollier has always had the courage to put politics aside in order to do the right thing, and she was instrumental in helping stop the Brownback cuts to schools, roads and public safety," Grissom said in a statement Thursday to the news outlet.

There are now three Democratic candidates in the race.

After leaving the GOP last year, Bollier was stripped of her leadership position and removed from her committee assignments.

In announcing her exit from the party, Bollier pointed to when the Kansas GOP adopted a platform that included the provision, "We believe God created two genders, male and female," saying it came off as anti-transgender.

"That was my final, last straw. I support the people of Kansas. I do not condemn whoever they are," Bollier said in December.

She also cited President Trump as a factor in her decision to leave the GOP.

Trump is "our president, but he is not representing my value system remotely," Bollier said.

In her interview with The Wichita Eagle, she said she backed the House impeachment inquiry into Trump.

"If we're doing something like this, we should do it in a nonpartisan way," she said, adding that the allegations were serious and "no one is above the law."

A Democrat from Kansas has not held a Senate seat since the 1930s. Bollier reportedly met with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) and other Democratic leaders before announcing her candidacy.

"To say I'm going to run one day and go out there - this is a huge commitment to the people and I want to be prepared for them," Bollier said.

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