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Kansas’ Congressional Influence Sure To Diminish with Dole Gone

May 17, 1996

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ When Bob Dole leaves the Senate next month, he takes with him perhaps unprecedented congressional clout for a state the size of Kansas.

With Dole as majority leader, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum as chairwoman of the Labor and Industry Committee, Rep. Pat Roberts as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and Rep. Jan Meyers as chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, Kansas arguably wielded more power than any state.

Now, that gang is being broken up.

Dole is resigning by June 11 to devote full time to his bid for the presidency; Kassebaum and Meyers are not running for re-election, and Roberts is leaving the House to run for Kassebaum’s Senate seat.

``It’s kind of like losing your national championship football team and going with all sophomores the next year,″ Ed Bruske, president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Thursday.

``There’s a lot of experience lost there,″ he added.

``I think the loss of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum from the U.S. Senate represents an extraordinary loss for Kansas and for higher education,″ Jon Wefald, president of Kansas State University, said.

``They are two of the greatest senators in the history of the state. We are losing not only two brilliant leaders, but years and years of expertise that cannot be replaced.″

While Kassebaum has brought prestige to Kansas, her areas of expertise have been foreign policy, education and social programs, and Roberts has been a heavyweight on agricultural matters.

It has been Dole who brought home the bacon to Kansas.

Consider these projects for Kansas in which Dole was instrumental in securing the financing:

_$55 million for the regional Environmental Protection Agency office, which he successfully moved from Missouri to Kansas, and $33 million for a new federal courthouse, both in Kansas City, Kan.

_$9.8 million for the federal courthouse and more money for a building to house the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation factory in Wichita.

_$14 million for expansion of the Throckmorton plant sciences building at Kansas State University; $7 million for the education communications building at KSU; $6 million for the Pittsburg State school of technology; $5 million for the Dole Center cancer research laboratories at the University of Kansas; $4 million for the Fort Hays State physical science building.

_Location of the U.S. Coast Guard pay center in Topeka, a regional job corps center in Manhattan and the Monroe School Brown v. Board of Education historic building in Topeka.

``No one has had anyone like Bob Dole back there (in Washington),″ said Ed Flentje, professor of public affairs at Wichita State University.

``I see his fingerprints in almost everything that came along in the last 10 to 15 years,″ Flentje said.

``I think (the reduced congressional clout) does put our military installations at greater risk,″ said former Congressman Bill Roy Sr. of Topeka, who lost a Senate race to Dole 22 years ago. ``And we’ve certainly had greater support for wheat farmers and the airline industry, so they’ll be at greater risk too.″

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