Kansas GOP Leader Pushing Medicaid Plan Not Running Again

May 8, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning in 2017
Credit Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

A top Republican legislator who worked with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on a plan for expanding Medicaid in Kansas announced Friday that he is not seeking re-election.

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said it’s time for him to focus again on his wife and business. The Overland Park Republican is the retired CEO of an eye care and optical surgery company and was expected to have a tough re-election race this year.

“Throughout this journey, I have promoted fiscally responsible policy and remained focused on evaluation all legislation in a practical and pragmatic fashion,” Denning said.

Denning was elected to the House in 2010 and to the Senate in 2012, becoming its No. 2 leader in 2016. The only candidate so far in his Kansas City-area district is Democratic Rep. Cindy Holscher of Overland Park.

He helped block Medicaid expansion in 2019 but outlined his own plan in October before working with Kelly on a bipartisan proposal that hasn’t gotten a vote.

In 2019, Denning sued The Kansas City Star over a freelancer’s column that criticized him for opposing Medicaid expansion, alleging the column defamed him by falsely attributing statements to him. A judge dismissed the case.