Decrying the policies of Gov. Sam Brownback and his legislative allies, Mayor Chris Morrow of Gardner on Wednesday launched his campaign to win a Kansas Senate seat in 2016.
“I’m hoping I can help create a renewed confidence in the state,” Morrow said, “because without confidence, the sun is going to continue to set on the state’s economy and its future.”
Morrow, a Democrat and mayor of the Johnson County city since 2013, will challenge Republican Sen. Julia Lynn of Olathe.
Elected to the Gardner City Council in 2011, Morrow said he has been watching state politics and policy more closely the past four years and believes the Republican leadership in Topeka has created ongoing uncertainty in the state.
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“The policies on the budget, taxes, education funding and health care accessibility are frankly broken,” said Morrow, who links Lynn to Brownback’s policy agenda.
Lynn could not be reached Wednesday for comment. The 9th Senate District includes a large part of Olathe, plus De Soto and parts of Gardner and Lenexa.
A lifelong Democrat, Morrow acknowledged he will have to campaign hard in the heavily Republican district. He touts his efforts in economic development planning and in engaging the community in local issues. He defeated the incumbent, David Drovetta, for the mayor’s job.
“I’ve helped establish policies that are fiscally responsible,” he said. “It’s allowed our local economy to grow. We’ve been able to improve our quality of life. We’ve invested in our infrastructure.”
Morrow, 52, grew up in Roeland Park and is a graduate of Bishop Miege High School. He served in the Navy and lived in Florida before returning to the area. He has worked in the employment agency business. He and his wife, Melissa, have six children.
Morrow’s candidacy is the latest in a string of announcements from Democrats and moderate Republicans who are challenging conservative Republican legislators in 2016. Conservatives dominate the House and Senate.
Brett Parker, a Democrat, announced Tuesday he is challenging Republican Rep. James Todd of Overland Park in the 29th House District.
Parker is an elementary and middle school English language teacher who said he would serve as a moderate voice for the district.