Two more Kansas lawmakers switch to Democratic Party

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Clayton (left) and Sykes Clayton (left) and Sykes

Two more Kansas state lawmakers switched their party allegiance today, crossing the political aisle from Moderate Republican to Conservative Democrat.

Representative Stephanie Clayton made her announcement first, followed a half hour later by Senator Dinah Sykes. Each has a list of reasons for making the switch.

Both are from Johnson County, as are two other Kansas lawmakers who changed their party affiliation last week.

“It does surprise me. The Republican party is a dynamic party. The way I look at it is I worked with everybody,” says Governor Jeff Colyer.

Colyer was in Wichita for a major jobs announcement at Spirit Aerosystems Wednesday when he found out more of his Republican colleagues from Johnson County had changed their party affiliation.

He says it’s not what he expected.  But other lawmakers, like Senate president Susan Wagle, say they knew this was coming.

“it's not a surprise." Said Wagle

First Barbara Bollier, then Dinah Sykes in the Senate, and Stephanie Clayton in the House. All women from Johnson County who will be working as newly-minted Democrats when the 2019 legislative session begins in January.

However, Wagle insists their change of party affiliation won’t change how the Senate does its business.

With these party flips, the Senate now has 28 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and one Independent.

The House will have 84 Republicans and 41 Democrats. Just barely enough to overcome a gubernatorial veto if no one else changes parties and all the Republicans stick together.

Except, as political analyst Patrick Miller from the University of Kansas points out, “That’s a mix of moderate and Conservative Republicans.  They don’t vote a united block.”

All of this is giving Democrats hope going into this session.

“It's very good for the people of Kansas who voted for moderate, pragmatic, problem solving government. And I think that's what you're seeing,” says Representative Jim Ward.