The Buzz

Kelly makes first federal endorsement as governor, backs Bollier in Senate bid

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is backing Barbara Bollier for U.S. Senate – her first endorsement as governor in a federal race.

Kelly’s support of the Democratic frontrunner to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts isn’t surprising, given their history serving together in the Kansas Senate. But it allows Bollier, who bolted the Republican party after the 2018 election, to tie herself closely to Kelly, who has cultivated an image as a progressive pragmatist.

“She shares my commonsense Kansas values and has a proven track record of standing up for our families,” Kelly said in a statement of Bollier. “She is exactly the principled, independent voice of reason Kansas needs representing them in Washington, D.C.”

Bollier, of Mission Hills, entered the race earlier this month. Former federal prosecutor Barry Grissom, who had been the most prominent Democratic candidate, dropped out shortly thereafter. Manhattan Mayor Pro Tem Usha Reddi remains the only other serious candidate in the primary after former Rep. Nancy Boyda also ended her campaign.

Bollier has quickly amassed the backing of much of the Kansas Democratic establishment. Former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius endorsed her last week and Grissom has also lent his support.

Kansas hasn’t sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since the 1930s. But Democrats are hopeful they’ll be more competitive in 2020, especially if Kris Kobach wins the Republican nomination. Kobach lost the 2018 governor’s race to Kelly.

Jonathan Shorman covers Kansas politics and the Legislature for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. He’s been covering politics for six years, first in Missouri and now in Kansas. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.