TOPEKA – Citing his ongoing battle with brain cancer, Greg Lewis, a St. John farmer and rancher who has served in the Kansas House for three years, resigned Monday.
Lewis made the announcement on the House of Representatives floor that a brain tumor found in December was forcing his resignation, effective this Friday.
“The mass in my head turned out to be a glioblastoma, high grade level IV, which is a cancerous brain tumor that grows exponentially,” he said in his statement to fellow lawmakers, his wife Susan by his side. “But that is OK. I know this tumor cannot defeat my God nor His plan of salvation for me and you.”
But, he was not in the office Monday afternoon as he had to rush back to Great Bend for radiation treatment.
Lewis serves the 113th House District, which takes in all of Pratt and Stafford counties, and parts of Barton, Pawnee and Rice counties. He first entered the Legislature in the 2015 session and was reelected this past November for another term that would have ended in 2021.
He was on the Local Government, Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget and Agriculture committees.
Lewis said he continues to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment following several surgeries.
“The afternoon of Christmas Eve, Susan, myself and our golden retriever, Zoee, departed for Kansas City to spend Christmas with our son,” Lewis said. “Christmas morning, I took Zoee downstairs for her morning walk. After returning upstairs, I began having problems with my vision, became light-headed and unstable on my feet.”
He told his wife what was going on and was headed downstairs while he could still get there on his own. “Susan came down and I told her I didn’t know what was happening but I thought we should go to a medical facility. Susan called our son (Joshua).”
The three went to the closest hospital. “It was a good thing that we ended up at that medical facility which turned out to be a trauma center for strokes, which also means they have a good neurological team.”
They thought he was having a stroke but after an MRI it showed he had a mass on the right side of his brain.
“It wasn’t long ago in this House that we passed a Telemedicine Bill that became law,” Lewis said. “Many of you were here at that time. We thought we had accomplished a great thing for rural health care when in fact we had greatly benefited both rural and urban health care. Christmas Day as I sat in the middle of Kansas City at a major medical facility, thanks to Telemedicine I found myself speaking to a doctor in Denver, Colo. From time to time we do get some things right in the Statehouse.”
According to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, the procedure to fill a legislative seat vacated by a resignation is laid out in statute KSA 25-3902. In a nutshell, once the resignation letter is received, it is forward to the county in the district with the highest number of registered voters, in this case Pratt County.
At that point, there is a 21-day deadline to convene a convention of the county’s precinct committee members from the party of the resigning lawmaker (Lewis is a Republican). But, the announcement of this convention must be made within 10 days.
Applications are taken and the name of the applicant who receives the most votes at the convention is forwarded to the governor within 24 hours. Unless there is an objection from the governor within seven days, the appointment is final and the new person fills the balance of the term.
The clock on all this starts ticking on Friday when Lewis’ resignation is final.