Bishop leaving Legislature

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(Developing: Will be updated)

Democratic state Rep. Elizabeth Bishop on Wednesday announced that 2021 would be her last session, bringing to three the number of Democrats who would not return to the statehouse next year.

Bishop, now in her third term as a state lawmaker from Wichita, joined state Rep. Brett Parker and Jennifer Day of Overland Park who have already announced their plans to leave the Legislature after this session.

Parker is leaving to head up a 501(c)(4) political organization with former U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier while Day is building a new home outside of her legislative district in Overland Park.

Bishop said it was a mix of family and health reasons for deciding to leave the Legislature.

“Even at a sad time like this, I have so much gratitude to share with you,” Bishop told House members who gathered for the last official day of the 2021 session.

“First and foremost, I want to thank the people of the 88th District – most of whom I think I know by name – for giving me the opportunity to serve them.”

Bishop spoke fondly of the young members of the Democratic caucus for the “brilliance” and “passion” that they bring to the Legislature.

She said she was “inspired” and “comforted” by their commitment.

“These folks are hard to keep up with,” Bishop said of the younger members of the caucus. “They are so capable and smart. I know the future is safe in their hands.”

Within a half hour of her announcement, Wichita lawyer Kelly Johnston – former chair of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party – announced that he would run to fill the balance of Bishop’s term.

Bishop, a district aide to former Democratic Congressman Dan Glickman, was elected to the Legislature in 2016 when she defeated Republican state Rep. Joe Scapa with 56% of the vote in House District 88.

Before coming to Kansas Legislature, Bishop served as executive director for Wichita Independent Neighborhoods and as a staff assistant in the Wichita city manager’s office as well as assistant director for the Sedgwick County Department on Aging.

During the 2019 session, Bishop revealed a personal part of herself when she disclosed to House members that she underwent a second-trimester abortion between the births of two healthy sons.

Bishop shared her personal experience during a debate over a resolution condemning a New York law expanding abortion rights.

Bishop told the House chamber that severe cramping and heavy bleeding prompted her to go to the hospital where a physician told her she would bleed to death otherwise.

Bishop represents House District 88, which covers part of Wichita.

The district has a distinct Democratic tilt.

Last year, the district went for Joe Biden for president and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier with 55% of the vote.

It went for Gov. Laura Kelly with 54% of the vote in 2018.

It will now be up to Democratic precinct leaders to pick Bishop’s replacement.

Johnston said in a statement that if he’s selected he will run for a full two-year term in 2022.

“I have the political and legal experience necessary to hit the ground running and complete Elizabeth’s term, and the campaign experience necessary to hold this swing seat for the Democratic Party,” he said.