Kansas House Democratic Leader steps down to pave way for new blood

FILE - Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, left, R-Wichita, confers with Minority Leader...
FILE - Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, left, R-Wichita, confers with Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, during a session at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Friday, April 1, 2022. Democrats are frustrated that Republicans are resisting Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's proposal to eliminate the state's 6.5% sales tax on groceries this year. (AP Photo/John Hanna)(John Hanna | AP)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 8:39 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer will step down from the position to pave the way for new blood in the legislature.

House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (D-Wichita) announced on Tuesday, Nov. 22, that he would not seek reelection for the leadership position in the upcoming legislative sessions.

“Having first served as Majority Leader of the Kansas House of Representatives in 1991-1992, then Minority Leader in 1993-1998 and 2018 until January 9, 2023, it has been an honor of a lifetime to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead our caucus over the many years during my tenure,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer indicated that it was an accomplishment to see that Democrats were able to net gain one more house seat which has grown the caucus to 40 members.

“This growth, which I hope to see continue in the coming years, will strengthen our position to advocate strongly for the issues that matter most to Kansans, such as tax relief, expanding Medicaid, fully funding public education including special education, and legalizing medicinal marijuana–just to name a few,” Sawyer said.

However, Sawyer also noted that it is time to allow a new Leader to step forward.

“However, upon deep reflection, I believe it is time for me to step back and allow the caucus to have a new Leader who will lead us and Kansans towards achieving these important goals,” Sawyer concluded. “The next generation of Kansans are the future of Kansas–and consequently, the future of our caucus. I look forward to working with our new Leadership in the next legislative sessions.”

It is expected that House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) will be chosen by peers to serve as the House speaker for the upcoming legislative cycle.

Those elected to serve in the 2023 Legislature will vote on Dec. 5 for House speaker, House majority leader, House speaker pro team and top Democratic posts.