No formal word yet from Mosier

By Bill Felber

With the 2012 session of the Kansas Legislature poised to open Monday, State Rep. Susan Mosier’s plans for representing the Manhattan-based 67th District remained unclear Friday.

Mosier has been unavailable to discuss those plans since being named Wednesday evening as the new director of state Medicaid services for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Riley County Republican officials, who acknowledged having been briefed by Mosier, indicated they were prepared to proceed with the selection of a successor when Mosier submitted her resignation, an action they assume will be forthcoming. Other sources indicated that Mosier had told them she would resign, but Barb VanSlyke, the county party’s chair, said confirmation of Mosier’s resignation “would have to come from her.”

A representative in the office of Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Friday that Mosier had not resigned as of mid-day.

Assuming Mosier does resign, it would be up to her to pick the date. She could theoretically do so immediately, although since the session opens Monday that would leave the district un-represented for whatever period of time it takes to find a successor. Alternatively, she could continue in office until her state appointment begins March 1, or choose some interim date.

VanSlyke said her office had been in touch with state party officials to review procedures for selecting a successor. She noted that several members of the legislature had left office under similar circumstances during the installation of Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration a year ago.

“This is new to us, but the state people have been through this many times,” she said.

The procedures are fairly simple. No sooner than 21 days following a resignation, committeepersons from the approximately to dozen precincts and townships comprising the district — which largely consists of the southern and western portions of the city as well as adjacent rural areas — convene to elect a replacement.

VanSlyke indicated Thursday that one priority in choosing a successor would be the person’s willingness to stand for election to a full term in November. No potential candidates publicly stepped forward Friday, but two names tended to surface in Republican circles. Those two were Frank Beer, a local businessman, and Lee Modesitt, the county party’s vice chair.

Beer’s name has previously surfaced as a potential candidate if a new seat was created. Modesitt ran against Democratic State Rep. Sydney Carlin in 2010, and any decision to seek Mosier’s seat this year would require him to relocate his residence. He has previously been the widely rumored challenger to Carlin again this year.

One other possibility would be if one of the two already declared candidates for the 22nd District Senate seat now held by Roger Reitz would be willing to switch and run for the House. But both of those candidates, Bob Reader and Joe Knopp, indicated Friday that their focus remains on the Senate race.

The area’s legislative delegation has some experience with mid-term appointments. In 2000, the death of 21st District Sen. Janice Hardenburger led to the election by committeepersons of Mark Taddiken to fill the remaining months of her term. Taddiken won election to his own term that November and has since been re-elected twice.

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