Former U.S. Sen. Kassebaum (R) endorses Bollier (D) in KS race

Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R) endorsed Barbara Bollier (D) in the Senate race in Kansas. Kassebaum held the seat from 1978 until 1997. Pat Roberts (R), the retiring incumbent in 2020, succeeded her. Bollier, Roger Marshall (R), and Jason Buckley (L) are on the ballot.

Bollier, a state senator, served in the state House and Senate as a Republican until switching her affiliation to Democrat in December 2018. She cited school funding and Medicaid expansion among the issues influencing her switch. Bollier has endorsements from several current and former Republican state legislators.

Marshall has served in the U.S. House since 2017. Roberts and President Donald Trump (R) endorsed him. Sheila Frahm (R), who was appointed to the state’s other U.S. Senate seat in 1996 and lost that year’s primary to Sam Brownback, endorsed Marshall the same day Kassebaum endorsed Bollier.

The Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman wrote, “Both Frahm and Kassebaum hail from an era of moderate Republicanism in Kansas. … Both Frahm and Kassebaum endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 governor’s race.”

Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since 1932. No Democrat appeared on the 2014 general election ballot, and Roberts won re-election with 53% of the vote to independent Greg Orman’s 43%. In the 2018 gubernatorial race, Kelly defeated Kris Kobach (R) 48% to 43%. Marshall defeated Kobach and nine others in the 2020 Republican primary.

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan control of the U.S. Senate. Thirty-five of the 100 seats will be up for election, including two special elections. As of September 2020, the Republican Party has a 53-seat majority in the chamber. Democrats have 45 seats. Independents who caucus with the Democrats hold the two remaining seats. Republicans face greater partisan risk in the general election, as they are defending 23 seats while Democrats are defending 12. Both parties have two incumbents representing states the opposite party’s presidential nominee won in 2016.

Additional reading:
U.S. Senate delegation from Kansas