Kelly picks fellow state senator from Wichita as running mate

Sen. Laura Kelly announces Sen. Lynn Rogers as her running mate in the governor's race on May 24, 2018.
Sen. Laura Kelly announces Sen. Lynn Rogers as her running mate in the governor's race on May 24, 2018. The Wichita Eagle

Sen. Laura Kelly picked a fellow state senator and former Wichita school board member as her running mate in the governor's race on Thursday, emphasizing her focus on education.

Her choice of Sen. Lynn Rogers comes as the Kansas Supreme Court prepares to rule on the state’s latest school funding plan and follows Democratic candidate Josh Svaty’s choice of a Manhattan-Ogden school board member last week.

“During my time on the Wichita board of education, I worked to improve schools in Wichita. And during my time in the Kansas Senate, I fought alongside Laura Kelly to strengthen all Kansas schools,” Rogers said.

The senators form the first ticket this year made up of two current elected officials. Kelly is from Topeka, and Rogers is from Wichita.

Rogers was elected to the Wichita school board in 2001 and to the Senate in 2016. He has lived in Wichita for more than 30 years. Much of his career has been spent as an agriculture banker assisting farmers and ranchers with investment and financial planning.

Kelly described Rogers as a partner in her mission to restore excellence to Kansas schools. Noting the two sit next to each other in the Senate, Kelly said they had both worked against Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 tax policies, which critics say depleted state revenues and led to cuts in state government.

“During his time in the Legislature, Lynn fought to reverse the Brownback-Colyer tax experiment and invest more in our schools,” Kelly said.

Rogers’ school board term ended in January. His time as a board member was marked by the passage of a bond issue, the hiring of two superintendents, the end of busing for integration, and the closure of several schools.

As the June 1 filing deadline approaches, several candidates have named running mates in the past few days. On the Democratic side, Svaty announced Katrina Lewison as his lieutenant governor pick last week. She is a member of the Manhattan-Ogden school board. Former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer named former Gardner mayor Chris Morrow as his running mate.

“The Democrats are really going to the well in terms of grassroots elected office…and they probably need to. They need to get voters from every inch of Kansas,” said Bob Beatty, a political scientist at Washburn University.