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These 3 Former Kansas Republicans Say They No Longer Felt At Home In The GOP As Kansas City Suburbs Went Democratic


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These three switched parties after the midterms.

 

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It was the day Republican legislative leaders said they wanted to rewrite a school-finance bill that Clayton and other moderate Republicans had worked alongside Democrats to pass in last year's session. For her, it was a breaking point.

 

"I thought, 'I really can't do this anymore,' " she says. "By the 12th I was being asked to switch parties" and by the 19th, she had.

 

That was the same day state Sen. Dinah Sykes, another former moderate Republican from the Kansas City suburbs, announced her switch to join the Democrats, too.

 

Sykes, like Clayton, says she felt like an outlier in the Republican caucus.

 

"You know, if you didn't vote in lockstep and fall in line you were penalized."

 

That's what happened to state Sen. Barbara Bollier, also a former moderate Republican from the same Kansas City suburbs. When Bollier endorsed Democratic candidates for election, Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle — a Republican — says she had no choice but to strip Bollier of her committee leadership posts. "That was the line," Wagle says.

 

As a Democrat, Bollier says this legislative session, for the first time, "I don't have that pit in my stomach. That stress of knowing I don't agree with so many of the policies," brought forward by Republicans.

Like the other former-Republican lawmakers, Bollier says she reached a breaking point, too. She didn't align with Republican positions on issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to Medicaid expansion and says she gave up trying to steer the party back to what she considered its traditional center.

 

Kansas was an interesting case last midterm as Dems made gains in the US House, were competitive in another House seat, and picked up seats in the state legislature. Since they also won the governor's mansion, the gerrymandered districts will be gone after the next census.

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