Republican Sen. Barbara Bollier, whose stances on Medicaid expansion, gun control and other issues have aggravated more conservative members of her party for years, was removed as vice chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee following her endorsement of a Democrat in the local Congressional race.
Bollier announced Wednesday she was supporting teacher Tom Niermann’s bid for Congress, saying she did not believe incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder had represented the views of the district and that as a constituent she had been frustrated by his lack of town halls. She also said she would support Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly in her bid for governor should Kelly win her party’s nomination.
Those moves prompted swift rebuke from Republican statehouse leaders. Senate President Susan Wagle and Majority Leader Jim Denning, whose district abuts Bollier’s, issued a statement condemning her for crossing party lines.
“After Senator Bollier’s embarrassing endorsements, I have no choice but to remove her from her leadership position, effective immediately,” Wagle said.
Denning said he was committed to fostering an environment where “the caucus reflects Kansas values and the will of the voters who elected the Republican membership” and called Bollier’s decision a “profound and personal disappointment to me.”
Following Wagle and Denning’s response, Niermann’s campaign issued a statement saying she was “removed from her leadership positions today for speaking truth to power.”
“Senator Bollier has a long record of standing up for what is right, regardless of what her party leaders demand of her,” Niermann said. “She listens to her community, and works to improve their lives – standing up to the NRA, protecting our healthcare, and fully funding our public schools. Her commitment to community over party is the kind of leadership sorely missing in Washington, especially from Kevin Yoder.”
Bollier’s support of Niermann wasn’t the only big endorsement news in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District race. President Donald Trump authored a tweet Wednesday afternoon thanking Rep. Yoder for his work on the Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee for securing money for border security and saying Yoder had his “full and total endorsement!”:
Thank you to Congressman Kevin Yoder! He secured $5 BILLION for Border Security. Now we need Congress to support. Kevin has been strong on Crime, the Border, the 2nd Amendment, and he loves our Military and Vets. @RepKevinYoder has my full and total endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018