OK, letís look at the 2017 post-election Kansas Legislature.
The numbers so far: Itís four Democrats in the Senate and 18 Republicans and 17 Democrats in the House. Numbers seem a little thin? Well, thatís just what we knew at noon last Wednesday, when filings for legislative seats officially were closed.
Those four senators and 33 House members filed for re-election and didnít find any main party candidates who wanted to give them a challenge, plus two newbies who filed for the House didnít attract any opposition. So those four in the Senate and 35 in the House will be the only main party names on the ballot for their seats, and if theyíre careful, they get sworn in around 2 p.m. Jan. 9.
The rest of the Legislature? That continues to build.
At the Aug. 2 primary election, another 17 seats will be filled for good, with the winner of the primary election unchallenged by a main party candidate at the general election in November.
The split? In the House, 15 districts have just Republican primaries with no Democrat opposition for the general election and two districts are Democrat primary-only affairs, with no Republican opposition for the person who walks away with the win in August.
So, when the vote counting is finished after the primary election, weíll have 52 House members who skate through the general election. That produces a House with 33 Republicans and 19 Democrats. Oh, there are no primary-only Senate races, so weíre still at four Democratic senators who skate through the general.
Letís not forget there are six Libertarian Party candidates who will show up on the November ballot. Thatís one in the Senate, five in the House, and while Libertarians in previous years generally have received less than 10 percent of the vote in districts in which they were on the ballot, things look a little different this year largely because of the presidential race. Some of those Libertarian candidates might get enough votes to Ö probably not get elected, but pare away at generally Republican candidate totals, which in some districts might give Democrats a better shot at winning a close election.
And, there undoubtedly will be a write-in candidate or two, or independents, and depending on their fame or notoriety, might just shift election results between the two main parties.
Everyone else? Thatís the real issue, and it is going to get extremely tricky for old-timers at watching election politics play out.
Two years ago, Gov. Sam Brownback carried 24 Senate districts and then-House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, 16 in the gubernatorial election. That means Democrat Davis carried eight districts that Republicans won in the Senate.
And in the House, where Brownback carried 76 districts, there still was that straight-ticket split. In 2014, 23 of the chamberís 97 Republicans were elected to the House from districts Davis carried, and two of the Houseís 28 Democrats won in districts Brownback carried.
A lot has happened in the two years since the 2014 elections.
The budget, well, itís virtually vanished, the school finance issue still is looming over the Legislature, and the governor isnít excited about making any changes to the portion of the K-12 finance law the Supreme Court has held is unconstitutional and might ó just might ó lead to closing schools July 1. While it was, of course, all legislative action that put the state in this shape, people tend to think ďgovernorĒ when it comes to placing blame ó or supporting low taxes and challenging the Supreme Court.
And, itís going to take some work by Republicans ó Democrats donít really have much to do here ó to make it clear to voters they are either with the governor on issues or not with the governor. Itís that simple.
Donít forget that in the GOP primary races, itís easy for challengers to incumbents to point at the current office-holder and link him/her with the governor for no good reason except that in many districts the pair were elected, maybe not as a matched set, but at least as being members of the same party. Thatís not a bad tactic for Democrats, either, linking even Brownback opponent Republicans as just riding the same elephant.
This is going to be fun to watch, maybe.
Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawverís Capitol Report.