Topeka House Democratic Leader Jim Garner's decision to leave the House to run for state insurance commissioner means that two Lawrence Democrats may be in line for a promotion.
Reps. Barbara Ballard and Troy Findley already serve in leadership positions in the minority party, and played key roles in two of the most difficult issues of the just-
completed 2002 legislative session.
With Garner leaving, Ballard and Findley have been discussed as possible nominees to replace him or serve in the No. 2 position as assistant minority leader. Those jobs are decided in an election of the House Democrats.
Ballard, the House Democratic caucus chairwoman, is a member of the budget-writing committee and was one of a handful of Democrats instrumental in helping broker a tax proposal that broke a legislative deadlock.
"I won't say I'm not interested (in running for House Democratic leader), but it's not something I want to concentrate on right now," Ballard said. She has served in the Legislature since 1992.
Findley, the House Democratic policy chairman, was the main Democrat in the House working on legislative, state board of education and congressional redistricting. Findley has been in the Legislature since 1994.
Findley said he was considering a run for either minority leader or assistant leader, though he said he had asked Rep. Dennis McKinney, D-Greensburg, to run for minority leader. McKinney is currently the assistant minority leader.
McKinney said he didn't know what he was going to do as far as leadership races go because he faces a tough primary opponent.
Of being in leadership, he said, "It's pretty draining work. You always have to remind yourself that you can't fire anybody. You work for them, they don't work for you."
Democrats are outnumbered in the Legislature, 46-79 in the House and 10-30 in the Senate.
All 125 House seats are up for election this November.