Politics & Government

Longtime Kansas lawmaker Les Donovan to retire from Senate

State Sen. Les Donovan of Wichita, left, officially announced Saturday that he’s retiring from the Senate after 24 years and endorsed state Rep. Gene Suellentrop to take his place. (April 30, 2016)
State Sen. Les Donovan of Wichita, left, officially announced Saturday that he’s retiring from the Senate after 24 years and endorsed state Rep. Gene Suellentrop to take his place. (April 30, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

State Sen. Les Donovan of Wichita officially announced Saturday that he’s retiring from the Senate after 24 years and endorsed state Rep. Gene Suellentrop to take his place.

Donovan, the owner of Donovan Auto and Truck Center, has served in the Legislature since 1992 and won nine elections.

“I’ve been called everything from a scoundrel to a scalawag,” Donovan said. “Nearly every one of my opponents is now a customer of my dealership, and some of them I consider friends.”

Suellentrop, a seven-year veteran of the House, is the owner/franchisor of Gambino’s Pizza and is on the board of directors of Legacy Bank.

He said Donovan “has been an outstanding senator. I hope I can live up to his standards.”

Suellentrop said the focus of his campaign and his time in the Senate if he wins will be on economic development and job creation.

Suellentrop “has the business sense to make the right kind of decisions,” Donovan said. “I’m very comfortable endorsing him as my replacement.”

Donovan also presented Suellentrop a $1,000 campaign contribution check for the Republican primary.

Computer business owner Lori Graham, a newcomer to electoral politics, is also seeking the Republican nomination in Senate District 27, which includes a significant portion of west Wichita and several smaller communities in western Sedgwick County.

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