Kansas Senate could see shift

The recent primary election in Kansas, combined with the results of the November general election, could alter the composition of the Kansas Senate, even though no members are standing for election. (Correction: one member faces an opponent in November after winning the primary election.)

Several members of the senate advanced through last week’s primary election in their efforts in seeking higher — or other — offices. Some are likely to win their elections in November and be required to resign their senate positions.

These include Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler, who is running for U.S. Congress from the first district, and Senator Jeff Colyer, who is nominee for lieutenant governor on a ticket with U.S. Senator Sam Brownback. Both are odds-on favorites in the November election.

Senator Derek Schmidt is running for Kansas Attorney General. Should he win, not only would there be a new member of the senate, there would also be a new majority leader, which is a powerful and important position in the senate’s leadership structure.

In Sedgwick County, Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau has won the Democratic Party nomination for a position on the Sedgwick County Commission. (Provisional ballots are being counted in this primary election contest, but the outcome is not expected to change.) Should she win in November there would be a new senator from her district in northeast Wichita.

Rumors are afloat that Senator Jim Barnett, recently a candidate for the Republican party nomination for U.S. Congress for the first district, may retire. Earlier this year he retired from his Emporia medical practice, and his wife works for a school district in Johnson County, some 100 miles away from Emporia.

Then — assuming a Brownback win in the race for governor — there will likely be a shake-up in many cabinet positions. Several senators may be interested in these. A win by Tom Holland might produce some changeover in the cabinet, and a Holland win would require that he and his running mate Senator Kelly Kultala resign from the senate.

It’s too early to tell whether these possible resignations and incoming new members would produce a shift in the political makeup of the senate. New senators will be selected by the precinct committeemen and women in the retiring senators’ districts. They would serve the remainder of the terms, which would be two years.

While the Kansas Senate is overwhelmingly in the hands of Republicans — the present composition is 31 Republicans and nine Democrats — many Senate Republicans routinely vote with Democrats on issues of spending and taxation. An example is the bill that increased the statewide sales tax by one cent per dollar this year. That legislation passed with a vote of 23 to 17, with 15 Republican senators joining eight Democrats voting in favor of passage.

An interesting situation is the replacement for Huelskamp, assuming he wins his general election in November. It was thought that longtime Representative and former Speaker of the House Melvin Neufeld would be the favorite to succeed Huelskamp. But Neufeld lost his re-election bid to upstart Garrett Love by a large margin. Whether the precinct committee people would elevate someone who just lost an election to a higher office is unknown. Could Love be appointed to the Senate, and then Neufeld appointed to the position to which he just lost a re-election bid? That would seem to nullify the sentiment of the voters expressed just a week ago. Others will undoubtedly be interested in the senate position, too.


5 thoughts on “Kansas Senate could see shift”

  1. Actually, Terrie Huntington is standing for election in the Senate this year (because she was appointed during the first two years of Wysongs term).

  2. Thank you, John, for that correction. She survived a primary challenge last week. Will her Democratic Party opponent be able to mount a strong challenge?

  3. I expect several changes in the senate membership. However, it looks like the solid majority supporting higher spending and taxes won’t. It is solid.

    The real question will be the possibility that a Gov. Brownback will be able to convince some of the GOP senators to return to a Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels policy of fiscal conservatism. Based on past KS history, this will be an interesting challenge for the new Brownback administration,

  4. I sure hope that, should Brownback win, he has his veto pen handy and is willing to wield it against all our RINO’s!

  5. Very Interesting, Bob. Thanks for the great information.

    And I agree with Ann, if Brownback wins, I hope he has a good veto pen.

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