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Archive for Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sen. Francisco considers leadership position

November 25, 2008

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— State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, on Tuesday said she would be available to serve in a leadership position among Senate Democrats and declined to say whom she supported for minority leader.

Lawmakers will meet Monday to elect legislative leaders for the 2009 session, which starts in January. Races for Senate president and House speaker have grabbed most of the headlines.

But a dust-up has occurred in the small Senate Democratic caucus. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, 30-9.

The current Senate minority leader is Anthony Hensley of Topeka, but he is being challenged by state Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City, Kan., who currently is minority whip.

When asked whether she supported Hensley or Steineger, Francisco declined to comment.

She said whoever wins needs to make changes to ensure better working relationships among caucus members.

Asked if she were running for a leadership position in the Senate Democratic caucus, she said she would be willing to serve in any capacity other than minority leader or whip.

The remaining positions include assistant minority leader, which is currently held by Janis Lee of Kensington; and caucus chair and agenda chair, a combined position held by Jim Barone, who is leaving the Legislature.

In the contest for Senate president, current president Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, faces a challenge from Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, who is seen as more conservative than Morris.

In the House, Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, is being challenged by Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson. Among Democrats, Paul Davis of Lawrence, Jim Ward of Wichita and Bill Feuerborn of Garnett are vying for the position of House minority leader held by Dennis McKinney, who was recently appointed state treasurer.

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