Kelly picks her lieutenant governor to be Kansas state treasurer

By: - December 10, 2020 12:50 pm

Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday in a news conference at the Statehouse that Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers will fill the state treasurer vacancy next month. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly is appointing Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers to the soon-to-be-vacant position of Kansas state treasurer, citing his experience in banking and public service.

The decision lifts Rogers, a Wichita Democrat, to the higher-profile job now occupied by Jake LaTurner, a Republican who was elected to Congress in November. Kelly must now select a new second-in-command to fill Roger’s shoes when he transitions next month. She said she already has made that decision and will make the announcement Monday.

Kelly, during a news conference Thursday at the Statehouse, touted Rogers’ time spent leading the Office of Rural Prosperity as a key factor in what she said proved to be an easy choice.

“When you have the best-qualified candidate across the hall, I had to be true to myself to appoint the most qualified person,” Kelly said. “He has over 40 years of experience as a banker — both in urban and rural areas alike. I’m grateful for his service in my administration, and I have no doubt he will keep doing great things for the people of Kansas in his new role.”

Rogers will make the transition when LaTurner leaves office Jan. 2. Rogers will be the first Democrat to hold the position since Dennis McKinney was appointed to fill a similar vacancy in 2008.

The treasurer oversees Kansas’ revenue and finances, directing the investment of state assets and ensuring government can operate efficiently through budget and banking management.

The role also comes with significant media attention, which several previous treasurers — including U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, former U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins and former Gov. Joan Finney — have used to elevate their political careers.

Rogers, a former state senator, said time spent in several political roles has prepared him for this next challenge.

“I have spent my entire career in banking, as early as college years, and bring to this position experience working in all aspects of the industry,” Roger said. “Then during the two years in the Senate, I served as the ranking member of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, so I look forward to applying all of this experience in helping protect the financial interests of Kansas.”

Rogers was elected to the Senate in 2016 after serving on the Wichita school board for more than a decade. Kelly selected him to be her running mate midway through his Senate term, and he now will be the 41st state treasurer.

Rep. Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Democrat who recently won re-election to the role of House minority leader, praised Kelly for choosing Rogers.

“Lynn Rogers has served this state selflessly in various capacities, and I’m confident he will continue to do so in his new role as State Treasurer,” Sawyer said. “I applaud Governor Kelly for appointing such a deserving and capable public servant to fulfill this role, and I congratulate Mr. Rogers as he begins his new journey.”

Republican legislators, on the other hand, were not pleased with the choice and immediately called into question Kelly’s decision to name a Democrat to an elected position previously held by a Republican. The Kansas GOP tweeted shortly after the announcement that the decision was a “partisan attack on democracy.”

Former Gov. Jeff Colyer, who yesterday endorsed a baseless election lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general, also condemned the decision for betraying the “will” of Kansans.

“Today, Gov. Kelly ignored the will of the overwhelming majority of Kansans and made a partisan appointment of state treasurer,” Colyer said via Twitter. “She substituted her partisan preferences for the votes of thousands of Kansans who opted for Republican leadership.”

Kelly said Kansans also elected her and Rogers to lead them.

“The people of Kansas elected Lynn Rogers to be a lieutenant governor, so I know they like him,” Kelly said. “They will have a chance, two years from now, to determine if they want him to continue in the state treasurer’s office. I have no doubt that they will.”

Rogers said he plans to pursue a full term in the position when the current term expires.

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Noah Taborda
Noah Taborda

Noah Taborda started his journalism career in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, covering local government and producing an episode of the podcast Show Me The State while earning his bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Noah then made a short move to Kansas City, Missouri, to work at KCUR as an intern on the talk show Central Standard and then in the newsroom, reporting on daily news and feature stories.