Topeka State Rep. Paul Davis, a Democrat from Lawrence, on Tuesday said he will run for the top Democratic job in the House.
“I’m going to give it my best shot,” said Davis, who has served in various leadership roles as he starts his fourth term in the House.
Davis announced his intention as Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed the current House minority leader, Dennis McKinney, state treasurer.
McKinney, D-Greensburg, will replace state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, who was elected to Congress on Nov. 4 when she defeated U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Topeka, for the 2nd congressional district, which includes west Lawrence. Under state law, Sebelius is responsible for naming Jenkins’ replacement.
McKinney’s departure after 16 years in the House and six years as Democratic leader uncorks some ambition among Democrats in that chamber.
In addition to Davis, other possible candidates for McKinney’s position include Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, who is the assistant minority leader, and Rep. Bill Feuerborn, D-Garnett, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
And although House Democrats face a 47-78 disadvantage against House Republicans, they are stronger than their numbers because of the in-fighting between moderate and conservative Republicans.
“Our caucus is the best political team in Topeka,” Davis said. “We are oftentimes the largest voting bloc in the Legislature.”
Lawmakers will meet Dec. 1 to select their leaders for the legislative session that starts in January. McKinney said he will be eligible to vote for new leaders, but didn’t want to get into endorsing anyone.
“I’m not taking any public sides on that,” he said.