By JOHN HANNA
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party has ended efforts to punish party officials who supported non-GOP candidates in last year’s election and reversed sanctions already imposed, its new leader announced Friday.
State President Mike Brown said in a statement that he and members of the Kansas Party Loyalty Committee agreed on the actions, abandoning or canceling about 40 cases initiated under Brown’s predecessor, Mike Kuckelman. The party’s state committee on Saturday narrowly elected Brown to lead the Kansas GOP through the 2024 election, replacing Kuckelman, who retired.
“It’s time to leave behind the things that have divided our party,” Brown said.
Senior party officials pursued sanctions following Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s narrow re-election in November. Many Republicans blamed state Senator Dennis Pyle, of Hiawatha, for Kelly’s victory. Pyle is one of the most conservative members of the Republican-controlled legislature and left the GOP to run for governor as an independent.
The Loyalty Committee moved to strip Republicans who supported Pyle and non-GOP candidates in other races of party positions, such as representing constituencies in local GOP organizations. Kuckelman lifted the sanctions in mid-November so affected officials could appeal to the broader party executive committee.