TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – After an exciting election year in 2018, this year didn’t disappoint in memorable moments in Kansas.
The year in politics began with Laura Kelly sworn in as the 48th governor of the state of Kansas.
Kelly had to work with Republican majorities in the legislature in her first year as leader of the state.
“It’s never easy for a Democratic governor in a Republican state,” said KSNT political analyst, Bob Beatty. “She’s always going to have a rough and tumble year, every single year because she’s a Democrat,” he said.
Kelly and legislators were able to get an education bill passed that satisfied the state supreme court.
In other areas, Republican leadership blocked a vote on Medicaid expansion, and Kelly vetoed two Republican tax plans and an anti-abortion bill.
The governor also saw two supreme court members retire in her first year, meaning she’s selecting two replacements.
On the national side of things, the state saw two new members of Congress in Republican Steve Watkins and Democrat Sharice Davids begin their first terms.
Beatty said one of them experienced an unusual freshman year.
“Often they’ll keep their head down and then get ready for their second year and re-election. That did not happen with Second District Congressman Steve Watkins,” Beatty said.
There were rumors of Watkins resigning, and on another occasion, he incorrectly listed a UPS store as his home address on his voter registration form.
In the U.S. Senate, the January retirement announcement of Senator Pat Roberts triggered a long list of candidates hoping to take the seat that will be open for the first time in 24 years.
“That has put in play like dominoes hitting each other,” Beatty described. “Numerous people are already running,” he said.
In 2020 all eyes will be on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to see if he will get in and shake up that race.
Beatty said other things to look out for next year include how the topic of Medicaid expansion progresses in the statehouse, and how the Republican primary of current state Treasurer Jake LaTurner and Congressman Steve Watkins plays out.