Kansas state Rep. Marvin Robinson (D-KC) has drawn the ire of his fellow Democrats in the legislature who say he’s sold them out as well as his constituents with multiple votes supporting the conservative Republican Party agenda. 

Robinson, a first-year legislator, is a cousin to long-time Rep. Broderick Henderson, who endorsed and even encouraged Robinson to run for the position he was vacating.  

Robinson, best known for years of work to help preserve the Quindaro ruins, was a well-liked and active member of the community. Add on his late mother’s decades of Democratic political activism, and Robinson easily won his race, with little or no campaigning.   

Incorrectly, people assumed Robinson would prove to be a strong Democrat who voted in favor of Democratic issues. They were sorely mistaken.   

Marvin Robinson

In his three months in the legislature, Robinson has gained a reputation for voting in support of Republican issues. So far, he’s voted in favor of a bill to expand school vouchers and a bill that makes it tougher for Kansans to qualify for food stamps, and against the expansion of Medicaid, something an overwhelming majority of Kansas — both Democrats and Republicans —  support. 

He crossed the point of no return this week when he crossed party lines to cast the deciding vote to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the Republican-backed bill banning transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports.  

Two Republicans broke ranks and voted to support the governor’s veto. Robinson’s vote, the only one from a Democrat, gave the Republicans the exact number of votes they needed to override the governor’s veto. 

Sen. David Haley (D-KC) acknowledges African Americans, as well as Democrats, are not monolithic, but he says the power of Democrats in the legislature comes from keeping their vote together. When they break ranks, like Robinson did this week, the results can be devastating.  

Beyond just this week’s vote, Haley says he’s concerned by a string of votes by Robinson that he feels are counter to the beliefs and best interest of his constituents in the 35th District.   

Some individuals in the capitol are convinced Robinson has fallen under the influence of Kansas state Rep. Patrick Penn (R-Wichita), who is Black but supports an ultra-conservative Republican agenda. 

Another group believes Robinson is confused and lacks a clear understanding of the many complex issues he’s being asked to vote on.    

Haley thinks Robinson knows what he’s doing.  

“He (Robinson) endorsed Kevin Yoder for Congress and he supported Brownback in his second run for governor,” said Haley.  “He’s a good guy, but maybe we didn’t understand how deep his conservative leanings run.” 

Kerry Gooch, a lobbyist in Topeka who typically works on behalf of Democratic issues, says he could potentially find “some” logic behind Robinson’s support on certain issues. However, the vote he can’t wrap his head around is Robinson’s vote against the expansion of Medicaid. 

“There’s no argument that Medicaid expansions won’t help people in his district,” said Gooch.

Robinson, who doesn’t have a car, often catches a ride to Topeka with Rep. Valdenia Winn (D-KC). Democrats had been hoping Winn would be able to influence his thinking – and his votes – during their drives to the capitol. So far, that isn’t working. 

“He doesn’t seem to have anyone he listens to,” said Haley, who hopes members of his district can get through to him. “He’s totally misguided. He needs direction.”

If Robinson’s voting record concerns you, let him know if you see him around town. If you don’t see him, call or email him and let him know how you feel.

Email: Marvin.Robinson@house.ks.gov

Phone: 785-296-8763

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *