Topeka On her last day as state treasurer, Lynn Jenkins told The Topeka Capital-Journal that her public divorce and congressional campaign were “extremely hard.”
But the Republican, who left the treasurer’s office Friday, looks forward to the future and taking over the reins of the 2nd Congressional District.
“I have a great faith and great kids,” said Jenkins, who ousted Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda in November. “I have a great ex-husband. Everything’s going to be good.”
Jenkins’ husband of 25 years, Scott, filed for divorce less than a week after Jenkins was elected to Congress. They have two teenage children.
Right now, Jenkins is thinking ahead to her goals in Congress.
She will be sworn in with the other U.S. House members Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Although Jenkins doesn’t yet know her committee assignments, she said she hopes for the sole Republican opening on the House Financial Services Committee.
She said she could put her experience as a certified public accountant to use on that committee and help address the nation’s economic crisis.
“After the year we’ve come through, that is where all the action will be,” Jenkins said.
She is “not a huge fan” of all the bailouts, but acknowledges that there is a role for government in stabilizing the economy.
Setting up new staff
The House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Agriculture also interest Jenkins.
She has been busy getting her staff together and setting up district offices in Pittsburg and Topeka.
Her campaign manager, Pat Leopold, will stay on as her chief of staff and be in the district during the congressional session.
Eric Schmutz, who’s originally from Abilene, will work as administrative assistant in Jenkins’ office in Washington, D.C.
Mary Geiger, from Doniphan County, will be Jenkins’ communications director.
Jenkins said one matter she will focus on will be maintaining a robust constituent services program — something she said was “neglected for many years” while her Republican primary opponent, former Rep. Jim Ryun, was in office.
“You know we had a member of Congress that focused his time and attention more in Washington than he did here,” she said.
“Quite frankly, anyone that stepped into those shoes would look like a superstar.”
Preparing for Washington
Jenkins and other state officials have worked together to draft federal legislation that would ban the transfer of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Fort Leavenworth.
But besides that, Jenkins said she doesn’t have any specific legislation lined up for now.
She said she is preparing herself for the partisan world of Washington after two terms as state treasurer.
“I’m sure it will be a shock,” Jenkins said. “There’s a role everybody plays in questioning and holding people’s feet to the fire. It’s a healthy thing. I welcome it.”
Her race against incumbent Boyda to get to Congress was one that Jenkins described as “brutal.”
“With a lot at stake, it was bare knuckles,” she said.
Jenkins said she knows she will be a freshman member of the minority party, but she doesn’t think that members of Congress who are in her position “have to be irrelevant.”
“You have to step up and be willing to work with people on things that you can find some common ground on,” she said.