BY SUSAN WAGLE
NOVEMBER 30, 2019 05:00 AM
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and I both began as public school teachers. We both have what some would call persistence. But our approach to solving problems and fighting for what’s right couldn’t be more different.
I am the first woman to not only hold the role of speaker pro tem of the Kansas House of Representatives. I am also the first woman to become president of the state Senate. Make no mistake about it, there is an old boys’ club in Topeka that I needed to fight along the way. But nevertheless, I persisted and broke glass ceilings for women at every step of my career.
More than a year ago, Warren was warned during a Senate floor session that she was breaking debate rules during a speech. Warren didn’t listen to that warning, so Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did what any good leader does: He restored order. She has used his words while stopping her — “nevertheless, she persisted” — as a battle cry to resurrect her failing political fortunes among her liberal base.
We may have both persisted, but that is where our similarities end.
When I came to the Kansas House in 1991, even the Republican caucus was pro-choice. Having seen the horrors of George Tiller’s abortion clinic firsthand during a visit simply to get a pregnancy test, I was committed to changing the culture in Topeka. So I recruited and assisted pro-life state legislative candidates. The establishment said it couldn’t be done, but nevertheless, I persisted — turning the Kansas Legislature into one of the most pro-life in the country and passing 15 pro-life pieces of legislation.
When allegations of sexual harassment shook our state capitol, I took on the old guard and updated sexual harassment policies that hadn’t been touched in nearly a quarter-century. I worked with the Kansas City-based Women’s Foundation to help draft policy recommendations designed to make the state capitol a safe workplace for everyone. They said it couldn’t be done, but nevertheless, I persisted, and we implemented sexual harassment training for everyone because no government employee, regardless of level of seniority, is above treating their coworkers with respect.
And after President Barack Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius enacted Obamacare, I fought on behalf of our Kansas farmers to pass legislation helping them buy health insurance outside the over-regulated and costly plans mandated in the Obamacare exchanges. While state Sen. Barbara Bollier, one of my opponents in the U.S. Senate race, helped lead the fight against me as a state representative, nevertheless, I persisted and today Kansas farmers and ranchers have seen their health care costs reduced.
My battle against Obamacare was personal. As a two-time cancer survivor, I persisted because I know how dangerous a top-down, government health care system would be for medical innovation, coverage and care. And now I’m running for the U.S. Senate to make sure the radical proposals from Democrats such as Warren never become reality.
From the Green New Deal to socialized medicine, Warren and the extreme elements of her party would cost American taxpayers tens of trillions of dollars. So not only would they ruin our ability to provide care and grow our economy, they would saddle future generations with the bill. As the grandmother of 15, I will not stand for this.
Kansas Democrats clearly have a blueprint. From Sebelius to Gov. Laura Kelly and now Bollier, they are determined to run liberal women disguised as moderates. The worst thing Republicans can do is nominate a failed candidate to take on the new left wing of the Democratic Party. And that is why I persist, because Bollier and Warren’s worst nightmare is a principled, proven conservative woman like me who can take them on every step of the way.
Susan Wagle is president of the Kansas Senate.