Abbie Hodgson

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Abbie Hodgson (born September 27, 1981) is an American professor, policy expert and political candidate. She has been a speechwriter for two governors, policy advisor and chief of staff to the Minority Leader of the Kansas House of Representatives.

Hodgson is a fifth-generation Kansan who was raised on a farm that her family has operated for 150 years.[1] Her mother, Cherie Hodgson, is an emeritus professor of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. Abbie Hodgson is a 2003 political science graduate of the University of Kansas, with a Masters (2008) and Ph.D. (2017) in Communications. She taught communications at K.U. for ten years and credits professor Burdette Loomis with whetting her interest in Political Scene.[1][2]

A policy wonk, she was a speechwriter for Kansas Democratic Governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson.[3][1]

Hodgson subsequently worked in a senior staff role for the Pew Charitable Trusts, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, leading policy change efforts in Kansas and state legislatures across the country to stop predatory payday lenders and increase access to dental care.[1] In Ohio, she worked for passage of a bill that reformed payday loans that was expected to save that state's citizens $75 million a year.[2]

At the time when Hodgson worked in the office of Representative Tom Burroughs, the minority leader of the Kansas House, she helped to elect 12 new Democrats to the state house[4] and to create a bipartisan coalition to successfully repeal Governor Sam Brownback's tax-cutting measures. Testifying before the U.S. Congress, regarding the critical situation and comparing it to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Kansas Democratic Minority Leader Jim Ward warned, "The great experiment was a complete and utter failure that nearly bankrupted our state...You put that on steroids and pass it around the country. Not only will it hurt the U.S. economy, it'll affect the world economy."[5] Hodgson worked in particular with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to increase school funding.[4][1]

While in that post, she observed sexual harassment in the Capitol to have been "rampant," She said the behavior ranged from inappropriate comments to young staffers, including physical advances to explicit demands for sex. She said, "It rose to a level which I found shocking both in terms of the number of individuals who were perpetrators and how often it occurred." She said she was "shocked" to learn some legislators often had underage interns, including females, chauffeur them to after-hours social events. "I can’t tell you how incensed I was when I found out that legislators were doing that," she said. "This is supposed to be an educational opportunity for these young women and young men, and the fact that legislators were taking advantage of them and asking them to do that alarmed me, particularly given the predatory nature of the legislators who did it." Although her boss took some measures to deal with the problems within the caucus, Hodgson said he could have done more. "I didn’t find his responses to be satisfactory at the time and I don’t find them to be satisfactory now." "I think he had an obligation to the staff, to the interns and other legislators to do more than to simply tell someone to 'knock it off'." Dr. Loomis, who directed an internship program, was distressed to learn of the treatment of students in the legislature.[6][7]

2014 Primary campaign[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]

Hodgson lost the Democratic primary, 57.9% to 42.1% in the heavily Democratic 46th Kansas House district, to current third term incumbent Dennis "Boog" Highberger, the former mayor of Lawrence, Kansas, the district's largest city.[8]

2020 Kansas Congressional District 2 campaign[edit | hide | edit source]

In July 2019, Hodgson announced that she would be running against freshman incumbent Representative Steve Watkins. Having been informed widely by her prior vocational experience, Hodgson thinks she can focus on the issues of trade, agriculture, health care and the changing economy in a way that will assist the district's urban and rural constituencies.[1]

References[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Former governor staffer launches Congressional campaign, Ottawa Herald, Greg Mast, July 9. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hawks to watch: Abbie Hodgson: Officer with the State Strategy Group at the Pew Charitable Trusts, University of Kansas. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  3. Lowry, Bryan (July 8, 2019). "Former Sebelius speechwriter launches 2020 campaign for Congress in Kansas". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Shorman, Jonathan; Salazar, Daniel (2017-06-17). "Lawmakers override Brownback veto of tax increases, rolling back 2012 cuts". Kansas Star. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  5. Zampa, Peter. "Senate Democrats compare GOP tax plan to 2012 Kansas plan". Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  6. Sexual Harassment 'Rampant' At Kansas Statehouse, According To Former Staffer, KCUR, Jim McLean, October 26, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  7. Harassment, then helplessness, in state capitals, Politico, Reid Wilson, October 25, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  8. "Boog" Highberger, Project Vote Smart. Retrieved August 29, 2019.