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Challenges flared in Senate Democratic leadership races


While most eyes were on the Republican leadership races in the House and Senate on Monday, challenges flared up in the Senate Democratic caucus.

Outnumbered by Republicans 32-8, Senate Democrats generally stick together on issues and try to build coalitions with either moderate or conservative Republicans.

On Monday, Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, was challenged by state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.

Hensley has been in the Legislature 35 years; the past 20 years in the Senate, and minority leader since 1996.

Holland just won re-election to his second term in the Senate after having served in the House. In 2010, he was the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, losing to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Hensley and Holland tied 4-4 on the first ballot for minority leader, and then Hensley won 5-3.

But state Sen. Laura Kelley, D-Topeka, who just won a tough re-election campaign during the November general election, was upended by state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, for the assistant minority leader position. They also were tied 4-4 on the first ballot and then Francisco won 5-3.


straightforward 5 years, 4 months ago

I've never been accused of being a fan of Tom Holland but he certainly deserves that position. He stepped up and ran against Governor Brownback when no other Democrat had the guts to, even though he surely knew he would lose. This year he wins one of the most highly contested races against a hardcore right-winger, and did so running a clean campaign. Hensley has been in congress for 35 years and the minority leader 16 years - I think that's a big part of what's wrong with politics and government. Step aside and see if someone else can do better. Doing so would require some humility, which sadly most politicians do not have.

Liberty275 5 years, 4 months ago

Why not just be patient and the allow the electorate to decide who should step aside.

It's like we are being invaded by the American Communist Party here lately.

Clearly4Kansas 5 years, 4 months ago

Tom Holland is an honorable man, but I like the results of the senator Hensley's leadership.

Brock Masters 5 years, 4 months ago

What leadership results? As others have said, Holland has demonstrated leadership and would have revitalized the Senate democrat caucus.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 4 months ago

Fred: tell me how you would have the caucus revitalized considering the extremists have a stronghold.

Brock Masters 5 years, 4 months ago

Kathy no one says it will be easy or even possible but with Holland you would get a fresh perspective , a fresh start to build new relationships without the baggage Hensley brings to the table. Could Holland make a difference - don't know for sure but it is certain that Hensley won't.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

I too say give Holland a chance. Don't know what he can do until he is able to demonstrate.

wastewatcher 5 years, 4 months ago

Republicans and I also like the results of Hensley's Liberal leadership. He is responsible for the Senate Democrats going from 16 members to 8 during his LIBERAL LEADERSHIP. Hensley epitomizes the problems with Kansas Democrats!!!!!!

Brock Masters 5 years, 4 months ago

Senator Kelly is one of the brightest legislators in Topeka and Francisco is one of the least articulate and effective. Blows my mind she beat Kelly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

If by "articulate," you mean she doesn't speak in soundbites, you're right. As far as effective, you're just plain wrong. In spite of the overwhelming minority position of Democrats in the Senate, Francisco consistently makes something out of nothing in the legislative process.

Brock Masters 5 years, 4 months ago

Nope don't mean speaking in sound bytes. I mean speaking in a manner that clearly provides the listener with a clear understanding of the main points in an organized and logical manner.

Your turn. What has Francisco accomplished?

Clearly4Kansas 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm not from Lawrence, but I can say this: Francisco is well liked and respected by all her colleagues in the senate.

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