Incumbent Reps. Barbara Bollier and Stephanie Clayton on Tuesday easily defeated challenges from conservatives in the Republican primaries for their Kansas House seats, keeping intact the moderate contingent that has represented the area the past several years.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton on ‘social issue’ bills that threaten JoCo’s economic viability
Rep. Stephanie Clayton said she views part of her job as defending Johnson County’s place as the economic engine of Kansas — and that certain social issue bills that “embarrass” the state are a hindrance to attracting talented workers.
Clayton’s victory was assured early in the evening, with advance voting numbers putting her out of striking distance on the way to a 68 percent to 32 percent win over Jennifer Flood for the District 19 seat. It was a marked contrast to the 2012 primary in which Clayton barely defeated conservative Bruce Belanger 51 percent to 49 percent in the primary, propelling her to the general election where she won her first term in office.
Bollier’s victory over Neil Melton — her first primary challenger since taking office in 2009 — for the District 21 seat was closer, but still comfortable at 59 percent to 41 percent.
Melton and Flood had received considerable support from the conservative Kansas Chamber PAC and Americans for Prosperity, which sent out mailers claiming Bollier’s and Clayton’s votes had set back the cause of education in the state. Bollier and Clayton refused to support the controversial education bill that was put up for a vote before legislators could read its actual text. Bollier said that in the final calculations, claims suggested she was anti-education ended up being the defining issue of the race.
“I think the issues became about integrity, bottom line,” she said. “People were trying to use certain issues as divisive, and in the end the people said, ‘We know who is pro-school. We know who is supportive of our district.’”
Clayton said after the win that one of her priorities in her second term would be working against legislation that would threaten Johnson County’s position as the economic engine of Kansas.
“The social issues bills that embarrassed us nationally, that kind of thing matters,” she said. “It’s hard for local businesses, big or small, to recruit people from other parts of the country to come to Kansas… Let’s stop with some of these things that are really a liability to business growth.”
Clayton will face Democrat Patricia Stratton in the November general election. Bollier will again face Democrat Amy Bell, who she defeated 53-47 in the 2012 general election.