Senate Vice President Jeff King won’t seek re-election, citing disillusionment

photo by: Peter Hancock

Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, tells colleagues that the state needs to reimpose income taxes on at least part of the income farmers and business owners derive from their businesses.

TOPEKA — Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election this year, saying in part that he has become disillusioned with statehouse politics.

“The recent veto session shows the harm of putting politics over good government,” King said in a statement. “Last Friday, we witnessed dozens of Democrat and Republican legislators vote against fixing the very LLC loophole they have rallied against for years. They knew the importance of restoring tax fairness. They understood that we must close the gap to restore long-term budget health. But they knew that preserving the bad law would create a campaign issue that they could exploit against their opponents in the fall. Politics over policy.”

King, 40, is an attorney who grew up in Independence. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and economy from Brown University, a master’s in agricultural economics from Cambridge University and a law degree from Yale University.

He was appointed to the Senate seat in 2010 after then-Sen. Derek Schmidt was elected attorney general. He then ran unopposed for a full term in 2012 and was named vice president after having served only two years in office. He also chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Although he frequently voted with conservatives, some of his positions moderated in recent years, particularly regarding Medicaid expansion, after a community hospital in Independence was forced to close last year. He was also part of an unsuccessful effort this year to scale back one of Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax cuts that allows more than 330,000 farmers and business owners to pay no tax on their business income.

His announcement creates a vacancy in the heavily Republican 15th District, which includes portions of Montgomery, Neosho, Allen and Labette counties in southeast Kansas. Brownback carried the district with 58 percent of the vote in 2014.

So far, only one candidate has filed in the race, Democrat Chuck Schmidt, of Independence.