Kansas GOP turns 162, a look back on its history

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA (KSNT) – It’s a birthday celebration for one political party: 162 years ago the Kansas Republican Party was formed.

May 18, 1859, five years after the Republican party was formed, the group took roots in Kansas and has been the driving force of Kansas politics ever since.

“Kansas has been a bedrock Republican state seemingly forever, really since the civil war,” said Bob Beatty, KSNT News political analyst.

Republicans outweigh Democrats by more than 350,000 registered voters in Kansas.

Supporters of the party said people in Kansas can relate to its platform.

“Those hard working people, and they preserve that kind of value, and Kansas value and Republican value are very much in line, encourage self reliance,” said former Kansas GOP National Committeewoman Helen Van Etten.

Thirty-four of the 48 governors in Kansas have been Republicans and 30 of 35 U.S. Senators from Kansas have been from the GOP.

A large part of the success is huge margins in rural areas.

Nationally, there’s a conversation happening about how the party should look moving forward.

“A lot of Republicans are thinking, where do we go from here? Do we become more of a Trump party? Do we look at trying to appeal to minorities and urban areas? Or do we just keep doing what we’re doing,” Beatty said.

Some are questioning how moderates and conservatives can blend in the same party. Van Etten said it’s possible.

“We can work together, it doesn’t have to be this way or that way,” Van Etten said. “If you treated people like, not my way then you are not with us, that’s not the mentality of the Republican party is, we want to welcome everybody.”

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