Republicans Elect Woman As Kansas Senate President For The First Time

By John P. Tretbar

Kansas Republicans have elected a woman to lead a legislative chamber for the first time. In leadership elections, senators elected Susan Wagle of Wichita as Senate President.

Wagle defeated Steve Abrams of Arkansas City.

Johnson County Republican Ray Merrick is the new speaker of the Kansas House. Merrick won on a second ballot Monday over fellow Johnson County representative Arlen Siegfried.

When the session begins in January, Republicans will outnumber Democrats 32-8 in the Senate and 92-33 in the House.

Party primaries in August saw the conservative wing of the Republican Party oust several moderates, including Senate President Steve Morris.

In the House, Speaker Mike O’Neal retired after 28 years in the chamber, including two terms as speaker.

Democrats re-elected Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, as Senate minority leader and Paul Davis, of Lawrence, as House minority leader.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued the following statement Monday regarding the election of the Kansas Legislature leadership.

“Congratulations to the newly-elected leaders of the Kansas Legislature. The upcoming session offers us great opportunities to continue our work to grow the Kansas economy, create jobs and improve education. I look forward to working with Senate President Susan Wagle, the state’s first woman senate president, House Speaker Ray Merrick, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, House Minority Leader Paul Davis and their leadership teams.”

The Kansas Legislature reconvenes on January 14, 2013.