Former Wichita state Sen. Jean Schodorf will seek a return to the Kansas Legislature, running to represent a southern Kansas district in the House.
Schodorf, a Democrat who had been a moderate Republican until she lost her seat in a 2012 conservative takeover of the Senate, now lives in Sedan. She announced her candidacy for the District 12 House seat on Wednesday.
She’ll be running against Doug Blex, also of Sedan. Blex was recruited on the Republican side by the current representative, Virgil Peck, R-Havana.
Peck left the seat open when he filed to run for the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence.
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After losing her Senate seat, Schodorf switched parties and lost the 2014 race for secretary of state to Republican Kris Kobach. She now works for the Tri-County Special Education Cooperative as a speech and language pathologist in Independence and Thayer.
In announcing her candidacy, Schodorf signaled her key issues will be school finance and the closure of the only hospital in Independence, which the owners said they shut down because of Gov. Sam Brownback’s and the Legislature’s refusal to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid.
“Our current representation has failed to listen to the people,” Schodorf’s announcement said. “The needs and concerns of my district have been ignored, and as a result Mercy Hospital in Independence has closed. The present legislature continues to pass unbalanced budgets, forced our schools in Caney to close early, and operates in a crises mode every single day.”
Peck said he thinks the real reason for the hospital closure was its owners spending $1 billion on a facility in Joplin, Mo., after the tornado there in 2011, and the school’s early closure resulted from a change in superintendents and new budget priorities.
Blex could not be reached for comment.
The L-shaped District 12 runs along the Kansas-Oklahoma state line from Independence to just east of Winfield and north to Rosalia in Butler County.