Politics & Government

Masterson will challenge Wagle for Senate president

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, plans to challenge Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, for the top spot in the Kansas Senate.
Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, plans to challenge Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, for the top spot in the Kansas Senate. File photo

Two Wichita-area lawmakers will square off for the presidency of the Kansas Senate next week.

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, sent a letter to Republican colleagues informing them of his plans to challenge Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, for the top spot in the Senate. Lawmakers from both the House and Senate will vote on party leadership next week.

“After much prayer, deliberation, and encouragement from others, I have decided to ask for your support as Senate President,” Masterson, who currently serves as budget chairman, said in his letter.

“I have a record of allowing fair hearings and robust exchange of ideas as a committee chairman, building good relationships with incumbent colleagues from both the majority and minority parties, valuing and including new members in the process, working well with the public servants and staff within the Capitol and government agencies, and, above all, shooting straight,” Masterson said in the letter, which was obtained by The Eagle.

He did not immediately return phone calls Thursday about his candidacy, but his chief of staff confirmed in an e-mail that he is running.

Masterson has played a key role in budget negotiations during the past two sessions in which the state faced massive revenue shortfalls. He was also one of the main architects of the bill that repealed the state’s school finance formula in 2015 and replaced it with block grants.

Masterson, who owns a development company, has been a close ally of Gov. Sam Brownback during his tenure as budget chair and one of the most outspoken supporters of income tax cuts the Legislature passed in 2012 at the governor’s urging.

Wagle has grown increasingly at odds with the governor on fiscal issues and has hinted in the past that she is open to rolling back portions of the tax cuts.

Masterson’s own finances came under scrutiny in 2011 when he filed for bankruptcy.

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3

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