Primary election results show changes coming to KS politics

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A change in politics is coming soon in Kansas after several incumbents lost the primaries Tuesday.

Many voters are hoping these results will mean a turnaround for the Kansas economy - no more state running out of money, maybe more businesses and good paying jobs coming in as well. Their votes last night mean the Kansas House and Senate will look very different when lawmakers go back in January.

From Hutchinson's Terry Bruce to Altoona's Forrest Knox and Johnson County's Greg Smith and Jeff Melcher, a lot of well known faces will disappear from the Kansas legislature.

"But you're also going to have a legislature that maybe will have a few more Democrats and you're going to have a legislature that's going to have a few more moderate Republicans," said Dr. Russell Arben Fox, political analyst.

Many of those defeated are conservative Republicans who have loyally supported the Brownback administration's changes to tax policy and social services in Kansas.

"It will be interesting to see how the tensions between the governor's mansion and the legislature ramp up in that regard," Dr. Fox said.

During Tuesday's primary voters moved the Kansas House and the Kansas Senate to the center, replacing many of those conservative Republicans with moderates.

Between defeated incumbents and incoming senators replacing retirees, one count shows the Senate moved between seven and eight seats toward the center, depending on the results of the general election in November.

That breaks the conservative leadership's majority hold on votes. There was a 25 vote block of conservatives guaranteed to follow the governor's lead. That number has now dropped to 18, not enough to dominate action in the Senate anymore. The House, which was already more centrist, saw a similar number of seats change.

Many of those who won Tuesday campaigned on rolling back the small business tax exemptions and putting more money into schools. The question is, will the governor accept this likely change in direction?

"The evidence thus far is that Brownback is not the sort of person who wants to do that," said Dr. Fox. "Maybe he will... and maybe part of him wants to go down as, again, one of these ideological chest beaters who said, 'I need to revolutionize Kansas and I did it, come hell or high water, no matter the consequences.'"

Dr. Fox says Tuesday's elections have the Kansas Statehouse moving back toward the centrist position it held prior to 2012.

Democrats Eyewitness News spoke with say many of the conservative Republicans who did win their primary will still face competitive challenges from Democrats in the next couple of months. Democrats have an unprecedented number of candidates running this year, one in every Senate district and about 75% of the House districts.