New Kansas Governor-elect Laura Kelly has labeled herself a “no-nonsense problem solver who will work with anyone to get results for the people of Kansas,” and she’ll have to work with anyone, especially Republicans if she expects to get anything done during her four-year term.
While Kansans may have bit the bi-partisan bug for their top leadership position, that bug didn’t move past the governor’s race.
All of the other state-wide office went to Republicans and, as expected, the Kansas Legislature remained heavily Republican.
With all 125 seats in the Kansas House on the ballot, results showed a net loss of one seat in the House for the Democrats, giving Republicans an 86-39 majority. In the Republican primary in August, conservatives had a net gain of at least five seats.
It appears the conservative Republicans have a solid 60 votes, which is about three shy of what they need to pass or block legislation.
The Senate still has its GOP majority of 30-9, with one independent. Conservatives usually can count on 15 solid votes and pick up more Republicans, depending on the issue. Twenty-one votes are needed to pass legislation.
As governor, her only way to exert power is by vetoing legislation passed by the legislator, but they can overturn her veto but it will require a lot more votes, which may be difficult to get. In addition, she can take action by executive order.
For example, Gov. Jeff Colyer recently implemented a ban-the-box policy for state hires using executive order. With that order, Kansas took the question, “Are you a convicted felon,” off their application for employment.
While Democrats are hoping for Kelly’s success, the road won’t be easy.
“I think she’s going to be successful,” says KS. Rep Gail Finney. “If anyone can do it, it’s going to be her.”