- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appointed a legislator Tuesday as the next state treasurer to replace Republican Ron Estes after Estes won a special congressional election.

The new treasurer is GOP state Sen. Jake LaTurner, of Pittsburg. He will serve the rest of Estes’ four-year term and said he will seek a full, four-year term in 2018.

Brownback touted LaTurner’s work as a legislator during a Statehouse news conference, pointing to his authorship in 2015 of a state law limiting the authority of cities and counties to spend additional property tax revenues without a public vote.

The treasurer manages deposits of state funds and oversees a college savings program, though the office’s most visible program is one that returns unclaimed property to its owners. The position also has in recent decades given treasurers a platform to run for governor or Congress.

“Having young people involved, young adults involved, in government is something I’ve advocated for,” said LaTurner, who is 29. “I’m going to surround myself with wonderful people, and we’re going to work very hard.”

Estes, 60, is stepping down as treasurer next week after being sworn in as the new congressman for the 4th District of south-central Kansas. The seat became vacant after Republican Mike Pompeo’s appointment by President Donald Trump as CIA director.

LaTurner has been active in Republican politics in southeast Kansas for at least a decade, serving as the GOP chairman in Cherokee County while still a college student. He formerly served on U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ staff in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas and had been considered a potential candidate for her seat now that she’s not seeking re-election.

LaTurner is chairman of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which handles hot-button social issues including abortion, gambling and gun rights. He’s been a solid conservative ally of Brownback’s in the Legislature, a strong abortion opponent and gun-rights backer.

Jake LaTurner has been a rubber stamp for Sam Brownback,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. “I don’t know what kind of qualifications he has. I doubt he has any sort of financial background, other than he might have a check book.”

LaTurner owns a firm that he said consults with businesses on customer service issues.

He first ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2008 at age 20 and unseated a less conservative incumbent in the GOP primary in 2012. He was re-elected last year with 56 percent of the vote, despite being targeted by Democrats.

Brownback’s appointment of LaTurner is not subject to state Senate confirmation. Republican Party officials in LaTurner’s district will name his replacement, with a special election in 2018 to fill the last two years of LaTurner’s current term.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .

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