Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): The Noobs

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Noobs

 Although not yet sworn-in, the members of the 2013 Kansas Legislature started swinging for the fences yesterday. (I apologize for not getting to this sooner, but time waits for no man. Not even Gidget, and Gidget was super, super busy with all the Topeka happenings and what not.)

As you're all aware, the newbies elected leadership for the upcoming term. I can't say there were any major surprises, but we learned a few things yesterday.

As expected Sen. Ray Merrick (and Rep.-elect Merrick, odd, no?) will serve as Speaker of the House. There was never any doubt whether the new speaker would be from Johnson County as all three candidates are from the Golden Ghetto. I had heard Merrick had the votes to win the thing, and he did. However, it wasn't exactly a run-away.

In the first ballot, which included Lance Kinzer, Arlen Siegfried and Merrick, Siegfried escaped with the most tallies -- 41. Merrick had 38 and Kinzer accumulated 13. (I have to assume these were sympathy votes?? Or favors owed, because as much as I like Kinzer, he's not up to the job.) Once Kinzer was eliminated, there was very little doubt, at least in my mind, of who would walk away with the prize -- Merrick.

An interesting tidbit, Olathe's Bob Montgomery, of the 15th District, finally publicly admitted he will not serve in the upcoming session. He dropped the worst worst kept secret in the history of Kansas, as he was nominating Arlen for the Speaker's job. Weird nomination speech, but OK.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Sen. Susan Wagle of Wichita handily defeated Sen. Steve Abrams of Arkansas City. The final tally was 23-9. 

I'm kind of grossed out about all of the fawning over the first woman elected to serve as Senate President. Haven't we moved past that? Kansas has had a women in the Governorship, in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House -- everywhere. This tiny historical post script is unlikely to make little girls dream big. So, can we get over ourselves? K, thanks.Also, an small icky factor in the "cancer survivor" schtick. This was mentioned repeatedly and it's not really relevant to the role of Senate President.

Also of note in the race -- Sen. Pat Apple, partially of Johnson County, nominated Sen. Abrams, who was defeated, kind of, in epic fashion. I have Apple pegged as one of the last holdouts of the Kansas RINOs, and his speech on behalf of Abrams suggests I might be correct.

Back in the House, I was disappointed that Amanda Grosserode did not win the job of Majority Whip. She is an excellent legislator. Although deeply principled (and conservative!) she walks the line between going along to get along and advocating for the conservative positions extremely well. People like her, even when they disagree with her. That's a skill that so, so few principled people possess. The House was stupid, stupid to overlook her for the job.

Rep. Brian Weber of Dodge City got the bid. I know nothing about the guy, but I have trouble imaging he will be better at the job than Grosserode.

While we're on the topic of individuals -- I'd like to nominate Rep. Marvin Kleeb for least original nomination speech. Kleeb gave a speech on behalf of Rep. Marc Rhoades for Majority Leader. Kleeb used each letter in the word "leadership" to make the case for Rhoades. Meh. It sounded like a speech I once wrote in junior high. (Rep. Kleeb, I'm a pretty good writer and will write future speeches for you for a very nominal fee! Just let me know!)

Finally, my least favorite thing about leadership elections: They are done by secret ballot. Legislative leaders are extremely important with the power to kill or move legislation in a way that your average representative, committee chair or senator can not. I personally believe every vote cast as a public official should be public.

Senate Leadership
President - Sen. Susan Wagle, Wichita
Vice President - Sen. Jeff King, Independence
Majority Leader - Sen. Terry Bruce, Hutchinson
Assistant Majority Leader - Sen. Julia Lynn, Olathe
Assistant Majority Whip - Sen. Garrett Love (R-Montezuma)

House Leadership
Speaker - Rep. elect Ray Merrick, Stilwell
Speaker Pro Tem - Rep. Peggy Mast, Emporia
Majority Leader - Rep. Jene Vickrey, Louisburg
Assistant Majority Leader - Rep. David Crum, Augusta
Majority Whip - Rep. Brian Weber, Dodge City
Majority Caucus - Rep. Kyle Hoffman, Coldwater

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