Primary election report: Conservative shift seen in GOP state House, Senate results

Unofficial election results indicate a conservative shift among state Senate and House Republicans, with a number of moderates losing races.

In general, conservative Republicans in the Legislature have sought less state spending, which could include school funding; more support for funding non-public school programs, such as vouchers; more opposition to the policies of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and more support for constitutional amendments that could limit the judiciary in school funding issues.

State Senate 

Seven Republican Senators were defeated, although one race is within about 50 votes.  Six were viewed as moderates; all elected four years ago and helped repeal the income tax cuts supported by Republican Governor Sam Brownback and passed by a more conservative Legislature. 

The six moderates include Sen. John Skubal, who lost to State Rep. Kellie Warren in Johnson County. In Butler County, Sen. Bruce Givens, a former special education director, lost to Micheal Fagg. Sen. Mary Jo Taylor, Stafford, lost to Rep. Alicia Straub, Ellinwood. In Salina, Sen. Randall Hardy lost to Rep. J.R. Claeys. In Hutchinson, Sen. Ed Berger, former president of Hutchinson Community College, lost to Mark Steffen. In Southeast Kansas, Sen. Dan Goddard, Parsons, was narrowly trailing former State Rep. Virgil Peck, Havana. 

The only conservative loss was in Topeka, where State Rep. and former school superintendent Brenda Dietrich defeated Sen. Eric Rucker, who was appointed two years ago to replace Sen. Vicky Schmidt when she was elected insurance commissioner. 

Fagg, Straub, Claeys and Peck have no Democrats filed to run against them in the general election, so are almost certainly going to the Senate (unless something changes when vote totals are finalized). 

House of Representatives 

Four moderates Republican were defeated in House primaries. In Johnson County, Rep. Jan Kessinger lost to Jane Dirks. Rep. Jim Karleskint, a former school superintendent, lost to Lance Neely; both are from Tonganoxie. In Salina, Rep. Diana Dierks lost to Steven Howe. In Wichita, J.C. Moore lost to Brian Bergkamp. Neeley and Bergkamp do not have Democrat opposition in the general election. In Wichita, conservative Rep. Michael Capps lost to Patrick Penn. 

The only Democrat incumbent losing in the primary was Kansas City Rep. Stan Frownfelter, who was trailing Aaron Coleman by a single vote in unofficial results. 

State Board of Education 

Former Kansas House member and Johnson County Community College Trustee Benjamin Hodge won the Republican nomination to replace Steve Roberts, who did not run for reelection, defeating JCCC professor David Krug. He will face Democrat Melanie Haas in the general election. 

Republican State Board Chair Kathy Busch won over Trish Hileman in Wichita, and will face Democrat Betty Arnold, former member of the Wichita USD 259 Board of Education. 

Three other state board members, Democrat Ann Mah, Topeka, and Republicans Deena Horst, Salina, and Jim McNiece, Wichita, have no opposition at this time for the general election. 

Share this post