Sen. President Susan Wagle won’t be returning when the Kansas Senate returns to the Statehouse next year. After abandoning a run for the U.S. Senate, she appears to be leaving politics — for the time being.
But that doesn’t mean she can’t make a fuss on the way out.
Wagle’s prime offense, of course, was spending years blocking legislation that would have expanded lifesaving insurance to thousands of Kansans through the state Medicaid program. She had no problem putting ideology ahead of what was good for the people of Kansas. But now, in the waning days of her term, she’s directing her special brand of stonewalling at the family of former Senate President Dick Bond.
Bond died in July. But according to reporting from the Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman, Wagle has refused requests to hold his memorial in Senate chambers.
Of course, Bond was a moderate Republican, and one who had called out Wagle for her obstruction. We can understand that might sting a little. But he also played a big role in securing the funding for the stunning restoration of the Capitol building. Surely all Kansans can be proud of that achievement?
But for Wagle, politics appears to trump all. Shorman wrote: "Wagle denied Hensley’s request to open the chamber for the service in a phone call last week, (Senate Minority Leader Anthony) Hensley said, adding that she told him it would set a precedent. He also said Wagle voiced concern that participants would be unable to socially distance."
This all appears to be nonsense. Shorman noted that Senate regulations say nothing about using the space for memorial services, and Hensley recalls it being used for such years ago. What’s more, the number of those attending would be far fewer than the usual number of senators and staff using the space.
The real reason for all of this appears to be Wagle’s unhappiness over COVID-19 restrictions, and the way these restrictions have personally affected her family. She has clashed repeatedly with Gov. Laura Kelly over the subject in recent months.
Shorman notes that "Wagle also said that her daughter, Julia Marie Scott, died five months ago ‘to a brave four-year battle with cancer, and yet, my family has not been able to host a memorial service for her because of the COVID-19 outbreak.’"
Wagle’s loss is profound, and we extend her our sympathy. We only wish she could extend a similar sympathy to others, even if they disagreed with her politically.