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Southeast Kansas Republicans Appoint Conservative New Senator

Former Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand was appointed this week to serve the remainder of Sen. Jake LaTurner’s term.";

After Jake LaTurner was appointed State Treasurer, Southeast Kansas Republicans appear to have replaced one conservative with another in the Kansas Senate.

The lawmaker appointed this week to serve the remainder of LaTurner’s term, former Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand, says he doesn’t like political labels. But his views on key budget and tax issues align him with conservatives in the Legislature.

“I do not believe in general that the state has a funding issue, I think we have a spending issue," Hilderbrand says. "I would like for us to look at what we’re spending before we look at raising taxes.”

Lawmakers are facing budget gaps totaling $900 million over the next two years.

Democrats and moderate Republicans appear to have the votes to fill those gaps by rolling back some of Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax cuts. But if Hilderbrand sides with conservatives, they would still have the votes to sustain a Brownback veto.