For many legislators, campaign season hasn't yet ended. They're running a race to the finish line in hopes of getting a role in leadership. Members of the House and Senate will vote on leadership positions on December 5.
I've written about the race for Kansas Speaker of the House before.
Reps. Jene Vickrey, Ron Ryckman, and Russ Jennings are vying to replace Ray Merrick. If I were a betting woman, I'd place money on Ryckman winning the job--though on a personal note, Vickrey is one of my favorite humans. That said, from what I hear from the whispering class, it sounds like he is a long shot for Speaker, despite serving in leadership for a number of years most recently as House Majority Leader and before that as speaker pro tem.
The majority party--that would be the Republicans--chooses the Speaker and Speaker Pro Tem, which then are approved by the entire House on the first day of the session. That's the tradition anyway.
One of the Speaker's roles is making committee assignments, and one of the most powerful committee gigs is the Appropriations committee chair. Word on the street is that one candidate has offered that particular job to three different people in return for securing their votes. If that candidate wins, things could become awkward in a hurry.
Those running for Speaker Pro Tem include Kyle Hoffman, Ron Highland, and Scott Schwab. Rep. John Barker and Don Hineman are chasing the Majority Leader gig. Those running for Assistant Majority Leader include Dan Hawkins, Willie Dove, and Tom Phillips.
Blake Carpenter is running for Majority Whip, and Susan Concannon is running for Caucus Chair. Rep. John Whitmer was rumored to be seeing Caucus Chair, but I'm told he's changed his mind.
There may be more people who throw their hats into the ring for the lower gigs. These are just the folks that I know of who have declared their intentions to other legislators via email, postal service, or phone calls.
I know I've said this before, but I'll go ahead and say it one more time--the conservatives running for leadership positions in this toxic environment are a little loco. Nothing good is going to come of the 2017 session, and conservatives should be extremely careful less the so-called mods and Democrats try to wrap the oncoming train wreck around conservative necks and bury them with it.
All of that said, here's my predictions--subject to change:
House Speaker: Ron Ryckman
Speaker Pro Tem: Scott Schwab
Majority Leader: John Barker
Asst. Majority Leader: Dan Hawkins
Whip: Blake Carpenter
Caucus: Susan Concannon
This is just my gut feeling. And the rest of the state's Republicans may view the top of this crew as too northeastern--Ryckman and Schwab are both from Olathe, and Barker is from Abilene--so there's always a chance the members try to break up the crew. In that instance, I'm guessing Hoffman--challenging for Pro Tem would benefit.
Hawkins and Carpenter are from the Wichita area. Concannon is from Beloit--north central, representing.
The leadership elections will occur on Dec. 5. It's secret ballot, so we can make a whole lot of guesses about who voted for which candidates, but we'll never know the truth. This is baffling and frustrating to me.