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Politics, Elections and Government

Republican State Senator From Kansas Punished For Endorsing A Democrat

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FILE PHOTO
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Kansas News Service
Republican state Sen. Barbara Bollier, seated with the Kansas Legislature's Child Welfare System Task Force, has been removed as vice chair of the Public Health and Welfare Committee for endorsing Democrats in state and federal races.

The punishment was swift for a Republican state senator who crossed party lines to endorse a Democrat trying to unseat Congressman Kevin Yoder.

Sen. Barbara Bollier, a moderate from Mission Hills, Wednesday morning threw her support behind educator Tom Niermann, one of six Democrats running in the August primary.

"Why now? Things are becoming more divided both in the Republican and Democratic parties," Bollier says. The time has come for people to put party loyalty aside and stand up for what they believe, she says. 

But Republican legislative leaders did not at all see the unexpected endorsement that way. By Wednesday afternoon, Bollier had been stripped of her job as vice chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

The retribution was not only swift but harsh. "After Senator Bollier's embarrassing endorsements, I have no choice but to remove her from her leadership position, effective immidiately," Senate President Susan Wagle from Wichita said in a statement. Wagle went on to call Niermann a "leftist" Democrat.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning from Overland Park called the endorsement "a profound and personal disappointment to me."

But that wasn't the last word. Wednesday evening Niermann responded. Bollier was "removed from her leadership position today for speaking truth to power," he said in a statement.

The Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District has quickly heated up in the past week.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will be in Kansas Friday to campaign for Democrats Brett Welder in Kansas City, Kansas and for James Thompson in Wichita. Thompson is trying to unseat 4th District Rep. Ron Estes.

Sam Zeff is KCUR's Metro Reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff

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