Manhattan Democrat to resign from Kansas Senate midway through 4-year term
Manhattan Democratic Sen. Tom Hawk, right, said he would resign from the Senate one day into the 2023 legislative session. Democrats will appoint a replacement for Hawk. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislative YouTube channel)
TOPEKA — Democratic Tom Hawk of Manhattan said Thursday he would retire Jan. 10 midway through his four-year term in the Kansas Senate.
Hawk, 76, is a retired school superintendent and teacher who had a 33-year career in public education. He served three terms in the Kansas House before defeated for reelection in 2010. In 2012, he won the first of three elections for Kansas Senate.
He represents the 22nd District in the Senate that includes Riley, Geary and Clay counties.
“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve our state and represent my pocket of Kansas in the Legislature,” Hawk said. “I am grateful to my neighbors for placing their trust in me to be their voice in Topeka over these past 10 plus years.”
The 2023 Legislature convenes Jan. 9. Hawk’s exit from the Senate would officially transpire the next day. He serves on the Senate’s budget, transportation and utilities committees.
Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes, of Lenexa, said residents of Hawk’s district were fortunate to be represented by Hawk. She said his work to secure K-12 and university funding and to advance bipartisan legislation, including the state highway plan, would benefit the state for generations.
“His intellect, attention to detail and inimitable wit made our team stronger,” Sykes said. “Our caucus will feel a little emptier and a lot less funny without Tom Hawk in the room every day. ”
His seat in the Kansas Senate will be filled through a selection process organized by the Kansas Democratic Party. Republicans in the Kansas Senate hold a 29-11 advantage over the minority party. The full Senate doesn’t face reelection until 2024.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Gene Suellentrop, a Wichita Republican, plans to step down from the chamber Jan. 2. He will be replaced by Chase Blasi, a former staff member of Senate President Ty Masterson of Andover.
Suellentrop was arrested during March 2021 in Topeka after he drove the wrong way on Interstate 70 at speeds approaching 100 mph before stopped by the Kansas Highway Patrol. He tested at 0.17% blood-alcohol level and was quoted in a KHP affidavit calling a trooper “donut boy” and asserting he could beat him in a wrestling match. He was ousted from his position as Senate majority leader and subsequently entered a no-contest plea to DUI and reckless driving.
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