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U.S. Rep. Ron Estes endorses state treasurer in 2nd Congressional District Republican primary

FILE - In this April 18, 2017, file photo, state Sen. Jake LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, speaks to reporters after his appointment as state treasurer by Gov. Sam Brownback during a news conference at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. LaTurner has abandoned a campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat to challenge first-term GOP congressman Steve Watkins that he describes as vulnerable to Democratic defeat. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)
FILE - In this April 18, 2017, file photo, state Sen. Jake LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, speaks to reporters after his appointment as state treasurer by Gov. Sam Brownback during a news conference at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. LaTurner has abandoned a campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat to challenge first-term GOP congressman Steve Watkins that he describes as vulnerable to Democratic defeat. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)(John Hanna | AP)
Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 4:57 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - U.S. Rep. Ron Estes Thursday made a not-too-common decision in endorsing a challenger in a key GOP race. Estes endorsed Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner for Congress in Kansas’ 2nd District that includes most of the eastern part of the state, except for the core of the Kansas City Metropolitan area.

Estes’ endorsement for LaTurner comes as incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins faces criminal charges that he unlawfully voted in a Topeka City Council election and lied to a detective investigating the case.

Watkins called the charges “hyper-political” and questioned the timing of the announcement that came 45 minutes before GOP candidates for the 2nd Congressional District were due to meet in a debate. Watkins maintained he did nothing wrong, but Estes indicated the charges were a factor in his endorsement of LaTurner.

“Jake LaTurner is a trusted conservative who is ready to represent eastern Kansas in Congress. There’s no question that he will serve Kansans in the 2nd District well – focusing on the issues that matter most like limiting the federal government, securing our country, balancing the budget, and protecting the unborn,” said Estes. “Kansans deserve the best representation in Congress and Steve Watkins’ actions have unfortunately put this seat in danger of being handed over to a Nancy Pelosi liberal who doesn’t represent our Kansas values.”

LaTurner is facing a three-way primary for the Republican nomination. Former Kansas Secretary of Labor Dennis Taylor is also seeking the GOP nomination in District 2.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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