Kansas lawmaker: US Senate hopeful should be with his kids

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/WIBW) — A Kansas legislator is suggesting that the state treasurer should drop his bid for the U.S. Senate because he “needs to be at home, helping to raise his young children.”

State Treasurer Jake LaTurner responded Friday that state Sen. Gene Suellentrop’s comments were “cowardly.”

LaTurner is a Republican running for the seat held by four-term GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, who is not seeking re-election in 2020. LaTurner is the only candidate to have filed so far, but at least seven other Republicans are considering the race.

The 31-year-old LaTurner has four young children.

Suellentrop is a 67-year-old Wichita Republican. His comments came in a tweet responding to a news report about the race. The full post read:

Jake LaTurner needs to drop the race for Senate. Jake needs to be at home, helping to raise his young children, reading to them before bedtime, helping to coach their sporting activities. It’s not your time Jake!

LaTurner replied that Suellentrop should “be a man” and talk to him personally. A series of tweets from LaTurner read, in part:

Gene, these comments are offensive, cowardly and beneath you.

Suellentrop confirmed to 13 NEWS that he posted the statements. He praised the work ethic of Kansas' other senator, Jerry Moran.

"Whether you support Sen Moran’s politics or not, he is the hardest working legislator in Kansas. I do not believe Jake could or would, work as hard," Suellentrop told 13 NEWS via email. "Kansans deserve the work ethic of Sen. Moran from the next Senator who replaces Sen. Roberts."

LaTurner's wife also lashed back at Suellentrop's comments.

"The accusation that Jake would not be present for our children is repulsive to me," she wrote in a statement. "He is actively engaged in their lives and will be an ever present dad if elected the United States Senate."

Full statement from LaTurner:

“My wife Suzanne and I are greatly offended at Senator Suellentrop’s attack. His comments are a cowardly attempt to apply social shame against us for our parenting without a full knowledge of the facts,” said LaTurner. “Raising our four children to be God fearing, civic minded, good people is the most important work of our life. I read to them almost nightly. We go play ball in the back yard; we go fishing; we go to mass together every Sunday. We feel blessed everyday. We also try to teach them about service and sacrificing for our community, our state, and our country.

In the future, Gene should be a man, pick up the phone and give me his judgmental comments personally."

Full statement from Suzanne LaTurner:

The accusation that Jake would not be present for our children is repulsive to me. He is actively engaged in their lives and will be an ever present dad if elected the United States Senate.

Jake is an amazing father. We made the decision to run for the senate together because we love our state, our country, and want to safeguard our children’s future. We hope every day we are the parents God wants us to be. We hope Senator Suellentrop respects that in the future.