Johnson County Republicans hosted a celebration honoring Ronnie Metsker for his 8 years of service to the county party. Metsker, who served as the chair of the Johnson County Republican Party, was named as the Johnson County Election Commissioner by Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
His departure leaves a big hole to fill, and judging from the masses that surged through the JCRP offices earlier this week to send Metsker off, his efforts as party chair were noted and appreciated.
Metsker has gigantic shoes to fill. Brian Newby accepted a fancy gig as the executive director of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan organization in Washington, D.C. Newby will be missed.
Metsker will be missed as well. To his credit, Metsker headed the party in an era that saw Republicans take every statewide office. During his leadership, Republicans also made huge advances in the Kansas Legislature. The legislature is a much more conservative place than it was 8 years ago, and Metsker definitely deserves some of the glory.
Metsker deserves the congratulations and well-wishes. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his one major misstep from his time in service to the county party: the Jody Kramer Experiment. (I really hate to beat a dead horse, but I think it’s critical that grassroots people, who nominate and elect a party chair recognize how key the position really is!)
Save your arrows, disgruntled readers. I know some of you have great appreciation for Kramer HOWEVER had she voted appropriately in the role granted her by Metsker, had she advocated as the party wanted, I do believe Johnson County residents may not be the not-so-proud owners of King Louie. The county’s legislative body likely looks very different than it does today.
Metsker appointed Jody Kramer (and to his credit Clay Barker, KS GOP Executive Director) to the Johnson County Charter Commission. Having no knowledge of Jody Kramer at the time – and who could have guessed at the time the depths of her duplicity – it seemed Johnson County Republicans may have been on the cusp of realizing a party goal: partisan county elections.
The Charter Commission was to examine the county charter and suggest changes to Johnson County’s version of the Constitution. Here’s how I described the Jody Kramer Experiment way back in 2012:
…Long story short: The party crafted a resolution asking all Republican members of the commission to support partisan elections for Johnson County Board of Commissioners. Kramer was placed on the board by Metsker as the appointee from the Johnson County Republican Party. Kramer led the charge, working with Democrats, to ensure that voters never got the chance to consider returning county races to partisan elections… Let's just say partisan elections got tossed in order to protect the perceived power of the so-called moderates. It's abominable.
Metsker couldn’t have known that Kramer would choose to work with Democrats to stick a knife in the county party. Even today, it rankles. Despite the misstep of the forever notorious Kramer Experiment, Metsker leaves a huge hole in the Johnson County Republican Party. He definitely did everything he could to mend fences in a very divided county Republican party, and his efforts are noted and appreciated .
Thank you, Ronnie, for your service, and best of luck in your new endeavor!
Theresa Segraves, the former Vice Chair, has replaced Metsker as the head of the county party. She’s going to have big shoes to fill!