BY JIM DENNING SPECIAL TO THE STAR
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Kansas state Sen. Barbara Bollier’s entire campaign for U.S. Senate is built on a fiction that she hopes no one will challenge. As a member of the Johnson County delegation to the Kansas Legislature who has served alongside Bollier for almost a decade, I’d like to present the truth.
I speak about working across the aisle from experience. My work on mental health issues and crisis stabilization centers with Democratic state Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore earned both of us national recognition from the National Council of Behavioral Health, which awarded us the Excellence in Advocacy by an Elected Official award in 2018. It was the first time any Kansas public official received this award. My work on a bipartisan health care access bill with Gov. Laura Kelly received national attention and respect for producing a robust solution for affordable health care in Kansas.
However, Bollier is not a moderate. She does not reach across the aisle. A moderate would have voted for the bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by Kelly in June. Bollier voted no.
A moderate would have voted for the 2019 budget measure that included the landmark, bipartisan deal to restore school funding and satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court in the Gannon case. Bollier voted no.
A moderate would have voted for reasonable measures such as requiring licensing and inspections for abortion clinics to ensure patient safety and accountability. Bollier voted no.
A moderate would agree with 79% of Americans that late-term abortions should be banned. Bollier voted no, taking the position considered even too extreme by two-thirds of Americans who favor abortion rights. In fact, she’s voted against every single abortion restriction considered in her ten years in Topeka. Voting 100% of the time on one side of an issue is, by definition, not moderate.
A moderate would never cast the single dissenting vote against a law strengthening penalties for failure to report child abuse. Bollier stood alone and voted no, as all 123 of her colleagues voted yes.
Would a moderate inaccurately smear longstanding, sincerely held Catholic beliefs as “sick discrimination” and “bigotry?” Bollier did in a speech on the Kansas Senate floor. You can watch the video for yourself on YouTube if you don’t believe me.
Each of these examples put Bollier well outside the mainstream in Kansas. Now, less than two years after repudiating the Republican Party, she’s made the cynical calculation that she can use her old party affiliation to fool enough conservative Republicans that she’s one of them. It’s a slight modification of the strategy she employed from 2010 to 2018, when she called herself a Republican on the ballot while proceeding to support hard-left Democratic policy, voting with Democrats 90% of the time in Topeka.
Voting 9 out of 10 times with one political party while calling yourself a member of the other isn’t moderate — it’s dishonest. Running television ads touting “bipartisan” endorsements from many of the same so-called Republicans who have been endorsing Democrats for many election cycles is dishonest too. Voters deserve to know virtually everyone on the list likely voted for Paul Davis, Hillary Clinton and Laura Kelly, and is probably planning to vote for Joe Biden.
Bollier and her campaign consultants have also decided to tout her supposed working across the aisle to get things done. They’re hoping no one will point out that in 10 years as a member of the Kansas Legislature, she never got one piece of legislation signed into law. Not a single one, and definitely not a touted piece of legislation about medical billing.
The Bollier campaign is using millions of dollars that she raised from California and New York with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s help to claim that she “led the charge” on surprise medical billing in the Kansas Legislature. A short internet search reveals that her bill, SB 357, received not a single cosponsor, was not debated, and died in the committee where it was introduced.
In what world does not convincing a single member of the Kansas Senate to join your effort amount to being a leader?
Barbara Bollier is running an alternate reality campaign. These are simply the facts.
Republican Jim Denning is Kansas Senate Majority Leader.