To her credit, Kansas State Senator Barbara Bollier of Mission Hills failed to say, “I am not leaving the Republican Party. The Republican Party is leaving me”–the standard trope for Kansas party switchers.
To the credit of the Kansas City Star, reporter Jonathan Shorman did acknowledge that Bollier’s party switch was “not entirely surprising,” what with her open support of Democratic senator Laura Kelly for governor and her loss of committee assignments as a result.
Seemingly surprised by the Republican Party’s negative response to a sitting official who endorses a Democratic candidate, Bollier generalized her discontent, claiming the party was “hell bent” on removing “moderates” like herself. Shorman accepted Bollier’s self-labeling. He ought not have.
Based on the Kansas Policy Institute’s Freedom Index, Bollier has the lowest lifetime score of any Republican state senator who has served two or more terms. With an index of 37 percent for the seven sessions she has served, Bollier falls well within the range of her new Democratic colleagues. Call herself what she will, Bollier has a “liberal” voting record, but “liberal” seems to be a word proscribed by a state media that sees only conservatives and moderates.
In quitting the party, Bollier seems to have two basic gripes. One is that she does not like President Trump, which should not be an issue for someone who has been a registered Republican for decades. Presidents come and go. Principles remain the same.
The second gripe, incredibly, is the language in the Republican platform that declares, “We believe God created two genders, male and female.” Huffed Bollier, “That was my final, last straw. I support the people of Kansas. I do not condemn whoever they are.”
Bollier’s pious posturing on issues that have emerged within the last 15 or so minutes should be well received by her new Democratic allies. These are the people Rep. Melissa Rooker, a Republican from Fairway, met on the campaign trail.
“I’m in the midst of a fairly ugly campaign being waged by the very far left,” Rooker told the Pitch two months ago. “Right now Democrats say compromise is bad. My opponent is being supported by a group of people pushing the narrative that the GOP is a party of fascists and anyone who’s part of the GOP is a fascist.”
Here is what Rooker’s campaign website had to say about Bollier’s new colleagues. “Melissa’s opponent and his allies are running a smear campaign against her. They don’t have any ideas to fix things and would rather sling mud. They are partisan people who want to play politics instead of talk about the things that matter to our community.”
Rooker was one of only two Republicans in the House who have served two or more terms with a lower Freedom Index score than Bollier. Rooker’s was 36 percent. The Dems in her district could have cared less. The smear campaign worked. Rooker lost. One wonders if Bollier celebrated her defeat.