Government & Politics

Education, economic issues draw challenger into the 20th District race for Kansas House

Rob Bruchman
Rob Bruchman

Incumbent Rep. Rob Bruchman faces a challenge from Jan Kessinger in the District 20 Republican primary.

The winner will face Democrat Christopher McQueeny in the general election. McQueeny is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. The district includes parts of Leawood and Overland Park.

Kessinger said that instead of complaining about the problems he saw in the state, he decided to challenge them. Kansas is spiraling into debt, Kessinger said, and hurting education in the process. He also criticized state lawmakers’ tendency to take money from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

“Future generations are going to have to pay for it,” he said. “I don’t want to see my children and my grandchildren stuck with that.”

Kessinger said he initially supported Gov. Sam Brownback, with high hopes for the administration. But he was disappointed by the governor’s tax policy and leadership in the last few years.

Kansas needs to swing back towards the center, Kessinger said. To him, the state’s policies have gone too far to the right. He also bemoaned the Legislature’s response to the state’s education funding debate. Roads and education should be provided by the government, he said.

“We passed the block-grant funding on schools two years ago because it was supposed to be a two-year plan to come up with a better funding plan,” he said. “The Legislature did nothing until we got sued. And then at the last minute, in a special session, we came up with another idea and that only bought one more year.

“I think a governor would have been able to drive that to make sure that we had that better plan in place and no need for a special session.”

Kessinger later clarified that he’s also campaigning against the state’s control over local government. Local government is run more efficiently and responsibly than the state, he said. Kessinger said he also supports Medicaid expansion in Kansas after talking with voters. Brownback has opposed the Obama administration’s expansion.

“I would accept the federal matching dollars,” Kessinger said.

Bruchman said he did not have time to be interviewed by phone for this guide and did not respond to multiple phone calls requesting comment. He emailed a statement touting his accomplishments since being elected in 2010.

“My campaign is focused on my record of results for my district,” Bruchman said in the statement. “This year, I worked on a two year project with the University of Kansas that modernized our business laws to create more jobs and opportunities in our community. I carried the Jason Flatt Act on the House floor which will ensure that teachers and staff of every school district across Kansas will now receive the suicide prevention awareness and training that they need to help kids in their schools.”

In the email, he also cited his support for education funding and public safety.

“I am focused on working toward an efficient government that is accountable to the citizens of Kansas,” Bruchman said.

Jan Kessinger

Age: 65

Education: Bachelor’s in journalism from KU, master’s in business administration from Rockhurst

Occupation: Management and sales consultant

Elected experience: none

Website: www.kessinger4kansas.org

Rob Bruchman

Age: 37

Education: Law degree and bachelor’s degree in English, University of Kansas

Occupation: Business attorney

Experience: First elected as state representative for the 20th District in 2010

Website: www.robbruchman.com

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