Widow of late state lawmaker to finish term

? The widow of the late state Rep. Bob Bethell has been picked to serve the remainder of his legislative term, but she said she will not seek election to seat once the term ends.

Republican precinct committee members chose Lorene Bethell on Thursday to serve in the House until her husband’s term ends when the next session begins in January. She will be sworn in and attend the ceremonial conclusion of this year’s legislative session on Friday, The Hutchinson News reported.

Bob Bethell, a Baptist minister and former nursing home administrator, died in a car accident May 20 while returning to their home in Alden at the end of the last legislative session. He had served the 113th District since 1999 and had filed to run for re-election this year.

Lorene Bethell said the appointment is an honor and what “Bob would have wanted.”

“He loved that job. He loved working for the people of the state of Kansas,” she said.

While she won’t seek a full term, Lorene Bethell on Thursday introduced Dr. Tom Simpson, a semi-retired physician in Sterling who filed Wednesday to run in the 113th District’s Republican primary.

Bob Bethell and Simpson decided 14 years ago that Simpson would serve as Bethell’s campaign manager in his first run for the House seat. Bethell won and easily won re-election every two years. Simpson delivered a eulogy at Bethell’s funeral.

The deadline to file for the election is June 11.

The 113th District currently covers all of Rice County and portions of Reno and Barton counties. However, with a federal panel of judges considering redistricting maps, it’s unclear what the 113th’s boundaries might be when the election is held in November.

Rob Fillion, a Republican who is executive director of the Smoky Hill Development Corp. in Ellsworth, said he is considering whether to run in the race.