Four-term Rep. Stephanie Clayton today announced she plans to run for the Senate District 7 seat being vacated by Barbara Bollier, who announced a month ago that she is running for the U.S. Senate.
Clayton’s entry into the field sets up a potential Democratic primary against former Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Ethan Corson, who announced he would seek to replace Bollier shortly after her entry into the U.S. Senate race. No Republican candidates have announced plans to seek the seat at this point.
Clayton has been an outspoken advocate for greater transparency in the statehouse during her time in office, and has become well known among constituents for her active presence on social media and her frequent coffee meetings with residents. She said she believes the same approach to service she’s employed representing House District 19 would be beneficial in the Senate.
“The Seventh Senate district is comprised of one of the most educated, active, and engaged communities in Kansas, who require a high level of service, communication, and collaboration, all of which I will continue to deliver,” Clayton said. “I look forward to earning their trust and their votes for this new position.”
Clayton was first elected to the statehouse in 2012, and, along with Bollier and Melissa Rooker, was part of a group of moderate Republicans who were often at odds with state party leaders. She easily won reelection in 2014, 2016 and 2018, fending off challenges from conservative Republicans and Democrats along the way. But, ahead of the 2019 session, she followed Bollier in leaving the Republican party, saying the GOP’s position on K-12 funding was at odds with her beliefs. She switched her party affiliation to Democrat.
Asked for comment on Clayton’s entry into the race, Corson pointed to his history working to elect Democratic candidates like Claire McCaskill, Sharice Davids, Barack Obama and Gov. Laura Kelly.
“I’m excited to start knocking on doors in January and talking to voters about my nearly 20 years of serving the Democratic Party and fighting for progressive causes,” Corson said.
Clayton is a co-founder of the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus in the Kansas legislature and has served on the Johnson County Commission on Aging since 2013. She is also the Vice President of the National Council of State Legislators Women’s Legislative Network.
Clayton, a Shawnee native, attended SM Northwest and Emporia State University. She and her husband Ben live in Overland Park with their two children, who attend Shawnee Mission schools.