Barbara Bollier: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Barbara Bollier

YouTube/KPCT Barbara Bollier is a Kansas lawmaker who left the Republican Party and became a Democrat.

Barbara Bollier is a Kansas state lawmaker who left the Republican Party to join the Democrats. Bollier said her frustration with the party had been building for years but the final straw was the inclusion of anti-transgender language into the party platform, The Shawnee Mission Post reported.

Bollier has been an outspoken critic of her own party for years, even backing a Democratic candidate in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District election and the state’s governor’s race.

Bollier had been punished by the party by losing her position on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

“Once I was removed from my committees, it no longer made sense for me to try to represent my constituents as a Republican,” she said.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Barbara Bollier Quit The GOP Over Anti-Transgender Platform

Bollier told the Shawnee Mission Post that she’s had “frustrations that have been ongoing for nine years” before she ultimately made the decision to leave the GOP over the inclusion of anti-transgender language in the party’s platform.

“Morally, the party is not going where my compass resides,” Bollier said. “I’m looking forward to being in a party that represents the ideals that I do, including Medicaid expansion and funding our K-12 schools.”

Bollier has long been at odds with the Republican Party, which removed her from the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee for her criticism.

“Once I was removed from my committees, it no longer made sense for me to try to represent my constituents as a Republican,” she said.

Bollier said she will run for a second term as a Democrat. She previously served six years in the state House. Her district overwhelmingly backed Democrat Laura Kelly in the gubernatorial election over Republican Kris Kobach by 39 points.

2. Barbara Bollier Supported Democrats in the 2018 Midterms

Laura Kelly 2018 Kansas Governor TV Ad #2 General ElectionLaura Kelly 2018 Kansas Governor TV Ad #2 General Election2018-10-02T22:23:20.000Z

In October, Bollier appeared in an ad for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly, who served with Bollier in the state Senate.

“We work with her in the Senate,” Bollier said in the ad, “and she treats everyone with respect, even when she disagrees.”

“Kris Kobach would be just like Sam Brownback,” she warned. “Lots of fighting, only making things worse.”

Brownback led a massive tax overhaul that badly decimated the state’s economy and basic services.

Bollier, who backs Medicaid expansion and gun control, previously endorsed Democratic teacher Tom Niermann in Kansas 3rd Congressional District. Niermann ultimately lost in the Democratic primary to Sharice Davids, who went on to win the general election against Republican Kevin Yoder.

3. The GOP Punished Bollier For Speaking Out

The Republican Party punished Bollier for endorsing Niermann by removing her from her position as vice chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

“After Senator Bollier’s embarrassing endorsements, I have no choice but to remove her from her leadership position, effective immediately,” Senate President Susan Wagle said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning added that Bollier’s decision was a “profound and personal disappointment to me.”

Niermann blasted the move, saying that Bollier was “removed from her leadership positions today for speaking truth to power.”

“Senator Bollier has a long record of standing up for what is right, regardless of what her party leaders demand of her,” Niermann said. “She listens to her community, and works to improve their lives – standing up to the NRA, protecting our healthcare, and fully funding our public schools. Her commitment to community over party is the kind of leadership sorely missing in Washington, especially from Kevin Yoder.”

4. Bollier Wanted to Start a New Centrist Party

Prior to joining the Democratic Party, Bollier offered support for an initiative by former Bob Dole aide Scott Morgan to form a new Party of the Center. She later told The Shawnee Mission Post that she decided against it after realizing that she needed to be part of a major party to have any influence.

“I still support a movement like that for a moderate party, but I have found that the rules of the legislature are really set up for a two-party system,” she said. “If you aren’t affiliated with one of the two parties, you can’t sit on committees. And until that changes, there isn’t going to be a way to make it work.”

5. Republicans Say They’re Not Surprised Barbara Bollier Quit

The local Republican Party said that they were “not shocked” by the news of Bollier’s departure.

“After her recent endorsements of Democrats in both the primary and general elections, as well as a voting record more liberal than many Democrats, we applaud her for her honesty,” Johnson County Republican Party Chair Dave Myres told the Mission Post. “We look forward to an exciting election ahead in 2020 as Republicans have true representation on the ballot in Senate District 7.”

“Senator Bollier has a voting record more liberal than some Democrats, so it’s no shock she joined the party of Nancy Pelosi,” Sen. President Susan Wagle tweeted. “The only surprise is that she didn’t end her facade of being a Republican sooner.”

“It is unfortunate to be losing a member of the Republican caucus, but I believe this will be a healthy change for Sen. Bollier personally, her constituents, and for the Republican Caucus,” Denning tweeted. “I wish her the best and look forward to continuing to work with her next session.

Sen. Minority Leader Anthony Hensley said he was happy to see Bollier join the Democratic Party.

“We are excited to welcome Senator Bollier to our caucus,” Hensley said. “She has been a longtime friend and respected colleague with the best interests of Kansas at heart. Her expertise, pragmatism, and courage enrich the entire Kansas Legislature — regardless of whether she calls herself a Democrat or Republican.”

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