Dr. Barbara Bollier, the Mission Hills state legislator who switched parties from Republican to Democrat in 2018, announced this morning she was mounting a bid for the U.S. Senate.
Speculation had mounted in recent months that Bollier may enter the field for the Democratic nomination after she met with Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this summer. She becomes the fourth Democrat to enter the race alongside Barry Grissom, the former U.S. Attorney for Kansas; Usah Reddi, mayor pro tem of Manhattan; and Robert Tillman of Wichita.
In a video declaring her candidacy, Bollier likened partisan politics to an illness that was spreading “from Washington out to communities across the country, including here in Kansas.” She noted her party affiliation switch, saying that while she had long identified as a moderate Republican, she was turned off by the tax policies embraced under Gov. Sam Brownback leadership and decided she could no longer support the party. She says she now considers herself a “pragmatic Democrat” — but that she’s “never really been about partisan labels.”
“I’m running for U.S. Senate to be a voice of reason in Washington for Kansas,” she said.
Bollier is the third Johnson County resident to enter the race to replace outgoing Sen. Pat Roberts, who is not seeking reelection. In addition to Grissom, former JCCC Trustee and chair of the Overland Park Visitors and Convention Bureau Dave Lindstrom is in the race as a Republican. Johnson County has not had a resident in the U.S. Senate since Mission’s James Pearson served from 1962-1978.
Bollier’s time in state politics began in 2009 when she was appointed to fill the remainder of Terrie Huntington’s term in the District 25 House seat after Huntington moved to the upper chamber following the retirement of Sen. David Wysong. Bollier was elected to a full term in the seat in fall 2010, and served in the House until 2016, when she successfully ran for the Senate District 7 seat following Sen. Kay Wolf’s retirement.
Bollier served nearly a decade in the state legislator as a Republican, but her stances on issues like gun control, tax policy and Medicaid expansion put her at odds with statehouse party leaders, ultimately prompting her exit from the GOP in December 2018.