TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Tuesday’s primary election will have a large impact on next year’s state legislature.
“Many of the races in Kansas are going to be decided at the election tomorrow because there may be only Democrats or only Republicans running for a particular race,” Lawrence Democratic Senator Marci Francisco said, who is running unopposed.
Hesston Republican Representative Stephen Owens, who also doesn’t have an opponent, said you can’t just wait around until November if you want a certain candidate to be on the ballot.
“We take for granted often times the consequences of our election, or lack of involvement of elections, and when we see voter turnout low, we often end up with results that we aren’t pleased with,” Owens said.
In Kansas, Republicans currently hold a super majority in both the House and Senate. That means if they all stick together, they can override a veto by the governor. But the margin is slim, 84 to 41 in House and 29 to 11 in the Senate, so a few races Tuesday could impact the likelihood of what happens to that lead.
Depending on who voters choose, either a moderate, conservative or liberal candidate, it can impact the likelihood of who gets elected in November, and what issues get tackled next year.
2021 will also bring new leadership in the legislature. Senate President Susan Wagle and Majority Leader Jim Denning aren’t seeking re-election. That is giving some hope for change at the Capitol.
“We have got to have leadership that will work together in the House and the Senate,” Owens said. “In my two years in office, we didn’t have it, and it’s very, very frustrating to me to see those two chambers, that are party-aligned, that are value-aligned, not be able to sit down at the table and work their differences out.”
The change could also mean different issues could be brought up for debate, including a constitutional amendment on abortion, sports betting, medical marijuana and one of the biggest topics that has been up in the air for years.
“It’s well past time that we address Medicaid expansion. That’s money that’s needed for our healthcare system,” Francisco said.
Francisco also mentioned the need to fix the state’s unemployment system and Owens talked about the importance of working through the state’s budget issues next year.
Legislators that win election this year will also have to decide on the once a decade task of redistricting legislative, congressional and board of education districts. That will take place in 2022.