Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director
With all the votes tallied Kansas will find itself in a familiar position come 2017. While both chambers remain Republican-heavy, they have moved to the center which will help with those big-ticket items sure to eat up legislative days next session. The final count looks like 85 republicans will coexist with 40 Democrats. Democrats improved their position by 12 seats. Equally important are the big wins by moderate republicans in the primary and general elections. Several big-name incumbents losing last night were Rep. Marc Rhoades, Rep. Amanda Grosserode, Rep. Chuck Smith, and Rep. Sue Boldra. Rep.-Elect Eber Phelps defeated Sue Boldra, reclaiming his seat and the title of only democrat in Western Kansas.
Several lawyer/legislators were defeated: Rep. Jan Pauls, Rep. Lane Hemsley and Rep. James Todd failed to retain their seats, and Senate candidate and lawyer Bill Hutton lost to Sen. Fitzgerald by 500 votes. If my math is correct and I didn’t miss anyone, there 14 lawyer/legislators remain in the legislature. The most surprising result is the Republicans have no licensed attorney to chair Senate Judiciary Committee.
The statewide seats all remained in Republican hands as U.S. Sen. Moran, U.S. Rep. Pompeo, U.S. Rep. Jenkins, U.S. Rep. Yoder and Representative-Elect Marshall all won going away. These Kansans will work closely with the President-Elect Trump who won a close election last night against former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In huge news, all Kansas appellate court judges/justices were retained. The margin for Kansas Supreme Court Justices ran from a high of 71% (Stegall) to 55% (Nuss). While the ten point spread for Chief Justice Nuss was slim, it still outperformed the retention election results from two years ago where Justice Johnson and Justice Rosen received 52.7% and 52.6% respectively.
The raw numbers saw Justice Stegall, Judge Gardner and Judge Bruns outpace the historical margins with positive votes of more than 715,000. The remaining justices and judges hovered around 600,000 positive votes. Nevertheless, they retained their positions.
The most interesting retention data point came from Sedgwick County where voters decided to retain all judges/justices with the lowest margin being 54% / 46% for Justice Biles. This jurisdiction voted against retaining Justice Rosen and Justice Johnson in 2014.
For complete unofficial election results please visit – http://www.sos.ks.gov/ent/kssos_ent.html