Republican Speaker Pro-Tem and Long-Time Democratic Rep withdraw from re-election

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast, an Emporia Republican who’s served in the Kansas House for nearly 20 years, has withdrawn from the race for re-election to her District 76 seat. News came today from the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. The SOS Twitter feed filled with filings from candidates for office as well as others withdrawing from the race. KSNT News is trying to reach Rep. Mast for details on her decision not to seek re-election.

A long-time Democratic state rep is pulling out of the race for re-election as well. Topeka Representative Annie Tietze tells KSNT News she will not seek another term. She has held the District 53 House seat since 2007. She tells KSNT News her decision is purely for personal reasons, and has nothing to do with the current political climate at the Statehouse. Representative Tietze says she’s always believed that if you don’t like the way something is going, you stay and do something about it. She tells KSNT News it’s important to stay in office if possible and be part of the solution to the problem. Tietze says she wishes she could represent District 53 for another term as the state navigates tough times ahead even though she can’t.

Tietze is one of at least three experienced legislators who have withdrawn from re-election ahead of today’s noon deadline. After today at noon, candidates will not be able to remove their names from the ballot for the state’s primary election. Bryan Caskey, the Director of Elections for the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, says that candidates do not have to cite a reason for withdrawing. After today, candidates wanting to withdraw must wait until after the primary election. At that time, a nominated candidate “who declares that they are incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected” may withdraw under Kansas law.

Senator Steve Abrams a Republican from Arkansas City has also withdrawn from the primary race according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. Abrams has served since 2009.

Several state legislative leaders have said they are leaving the Statehouse over the divisive political climate they feel has deadlocked the legislative process. Current Senate Vice President, Jeff King, has said that he too will not seek re-election. The Southeast Kansas Republican’s reason: the legislature’s recent veto session. In a written announcement he wrote that the legislators’ decisions “shows the harm of putting politics over good government.” King apologized for his past support of Governor Sam Brownback’s tax cuts and acknowledged the fiscal policies as a mistake.

A Wichita Democrat elected in 2012 resigned from her Kansas House seat in December ahead of the legislative session. Retired principal Carolyn Bridges was a member of the House education committee who told the Wichita Eagle newspaper that she felt “beat-up” daily by the “people who don’t believe in public education.” She said her district needed to be represented by someone who might not take what she perceived as attacks on education as personally as she.

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