Former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker has endorsed 4th District Republican congressional candidate Jean Kurtis Schodorf.
Baker, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 1997, said in a statement released Tuesday by Schodorf's campaign that she didn't intend to become involved in a political campaign this year, but changed her mind after becoming concerned about the tone of the 4th District race.
Baker said she was particularly concerned "by the assertion by candidates that our country's problems have simple solutions, that being an outsider is an asset, and that an inflexible partisan posture is a successful approach to government."
"Complicated problems often require complex solutions," Baker said. "Being a stranger to the process is not helpful. The ability to collaborate with members of Congress from both political parties has always been a key to successful and effective legislation."
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Baker said Schodorf is the best candidate because of her experience as a state senator and school board member, and because of her ability to work with people to solve difficult problems.
"Jean Schodorf has demonstrated strong leadership on intricate education and budget issues, particularly the ability to negotiate with all factions on an issue to solve real problems with real solutions. That makes her the clear choice," Baker said.
Baker is married to former Sen. Howard Baker and lives in Tennessee. She did not attend a news conference Schodorf held Tuesday to announce the endorsement.
Schodorf said an endorsement from Baker can't be ignored.
"She continues to be a highly respected voice among Kansas voters," Schodorf said.
Ken Ciboski, political science professor at Wichita State University, doubted the endorsement would be significant enough to help her win the party's primary.
"It's not going to hurt Jean Schodorf, but I don't know how much it's going to help her," Ciboski said.
Baker's name might not have the recognition it once had, and today she would be viewed as too moderate. But the endorsement will get the attention of women voters, he said.
Schodorf is campaigning for the seat held by Todd Tiahrt, who is running for Senate, against four other candidates in the Republican primary election.
They are Jim Anderson, Wink Hartman, Mike Pompeo, and Paij Rutschman.
Raj Goyle and Robert Tillman are competing for the Democratic nomination.