Kansas Republican Sen. Jake LaTurner is replacing Ron Estes as state treasurer.
Gov. Sam Brownback announced LaTurner’s appointment to the soon-to-be vacant position Tuesday at a Statehouse news conference.
Estes, who last week defeated Democrat James Thompson in a special election in the 4th Congressional District, will step down as treasurer on April 25, the day after the state board of canvassers is expected to certify the election results. He replaces Mike Pompeo, who resigned in January to become director of the CIA.
LaTurner, 29, has represented a southeast Kansas Senate district that includes the cities of Pittsburg and Columbus since 2013. As a former staff member for outgoing 2nd District Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, LaTurner was considered a front-runner to succeed her. But he said Tuesday that he is no longer considering the race.
“My intention will be to run for a full four-year term in 2018 as state treasurer,” LaTurner said.
Former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat who came close to unseating Brownback in the 2014 governor’s race, announced last week that he is considering a run for the 2nd District seat.
Even with LaTurner out, the field for the Republican nomination in the 2nd District is expected to be crowded. Announced candidates include Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican, and Vernon Fields, a member of the Basehor City Council. Others said to be eyeing the race include Sen. Caryn Tyson of Parker and Sen. Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha.
The 2nd District covers the eastern third of the state from the Nebraska border to the Oklahoma state line, excluding the metropolitan Kansas City area, which comprises the 3rd District.
The state treasurer’s office has been somewhat of a political stepping stone for Republicans. In addition to Jenkins, who occupied the office from 2003 to 2008, Tim Shallenburger’s five-year stint helped catapult him to the Republican nomination for governor in 2002.
Asked if he aspired to higher office, LaTurner said his immediate focus would be on “continuing the quality work that Kansans have rightly come to expect from their state treasurer.”
“The treasurer’s office is an exciting place to be,” he said, noting its role in returning unclaimed property to Kansans and administering a program that helps families save for college tuition.
“As a guy that grew up in a family without much money and a guy that had to take out student loans to pay for college at Pittsburg State University, being able to advocate for families saving for their children’s education is something I’m particularly excited about,” he said.
Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio and KMUW covering health, education and politics in Kansas. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.