Johnson announces candidacy for state treasurer

Rep. Steven Johnson, the lead House tax negotiator, discussed Senate offer Tuesday night.

Republican state Rep. Steven Johnson on Thursday night revealed his intentions to run for state treasurer next year.

Johnson, now in his sixth term in the House from Assaria, announced his candidacy at the midyear meeting of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association in Garden City.

He said had already been planning an announcement in the next week or so but it came together Thursday night at the oil and gas association meeting.

“There’s probably not a better forum than the one right here to share that information,” Johnson said in an interview late Thursday night.

Attending the meeting as part of his duties as a legislator, Johnson said there seemed to be organic interest in his candidacy that made the timing right to make an announcement for state treasurer.

“It did take a little coaxing to say, “You’re in the right time and place, if you’re going to do it, you need to walk right out there and do it,” he said.

Johnson, 55, was first elected to the Kansas House representing House District 108 in 2010.

He’s been involved in a number of financial issues in the Kansas Legislature as former chairman of  the House tax committee and now chairman of the Insurance and Pensions Committee.

He’s been an opponent of restructuring state payments into the state retirement system during former Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration and Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration as well.

A farmer with a background in financial services, Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Kansas State University and a master’s in finance and business policy from the University of Chicago.

“Handling the revenues and investments is something that is important to me and that is the key role of the treasurer,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he had been first approached about running for treasurer last summer before it was known how former Treasurer Jake LaTurner’s race for Congress would play out.

The race for state treasurer is just starting to take shape and Johnson is the first Republican to announce he wants to run for the position.

The current treasurer, Democrat Lynn Rogers, has already announced his plans to run for the position after he was appointed by Gov. Laura Kelly to replace LaTurner.

LaTurner was elected to Congress last fall, opening the door for Kelly to name Rogers to the position.

Other Republicans who have been mentioned for the position include state Sen. Caryn Tyson of Parker and former 3rd District Congressional candidate Sara Hart Weir.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. has been mentioned as a possible candidate for treasurer as well as governor.

It’s possible that 2022 could bring the first contested Republican primary for treasurer since at least 2006.

LaTurner didn’t have a primary in 2018, defeating state Sen. Marci Franciso with 58% of the vote in the general election.

Former treasurer and now Congressman Ron Estes didn’t have a primary in 2014 before winning the general election with 67% of the vote.

Estes also didn’t have a primary in 2010 and neither did former Treasurer Lynn Jenkins in 2006.