2018 Midterms sweep Riley County, prove historic

Meredith Comas, Online Editor-in-Chief

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The midterms were a whirlwind, finally wrapping up last Tuesday with results that left the nation surprised and the GOP’s grip on current politics shaken.

According to previous statements to The Mentor from County Clerk Rich Vargo, when compared to past election years, there was a record turnout for voting in Manhattan, specifically advanced voting.

Overall Riley County turnout this year was actually closer to turnout numbers from the 2016 presidential elections, as opposed to 2014 midterm elections. Unofficial numbers from state reports put the total amount of 2018 votes for Riley at 19,843.

According to Vargo, this is most likely due to the special question on the Riley County ballot this year regarding the USD 383 bond, which passed with a majority vote.

Aside from the bond referendum, local incumbents Republican Tom Phillips, Manhattan; Democrat Sydney Carlin, Manhattan; Republican Suzi Carlson, Clay Center; and Republican Ron Highland, Wamego, all kept their titles as state representatives.

In the Kansas gubernatorial race, Sen. Laura Kelly — who has represented the 18th district in the Kansas Senate from 2005 to present — defeated her Republican opponent Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

In Kansas’s entire history, there have only been three female, democratic governors ever elected. Thus, Kelly’s democratic win — which many Kansans on social media seem to feel is a result of anti-Brownback politics — came as a shock to the Sunflower State, which is considered to be a deep red state. It was made even stronger due to the fact the Kobach had been heavily endorsed by President Trump, who even went to Topeka in early October to hold a rally where he would again endorse the Secretary of State in a crowd of almost 11,000.

The “blue wave” that hit the gubernatorial race ultimately ended there. Republican Scott Schwab will be replacing Kobach as Secretary of State and Republican Jake Laturner will take over as state treasurer.

Kansas’s house results ended with 84 Republicans to 37 Democrats, a result that was not mirrored in the United States House of Represntatives where Democrats now hold the majority.

The run for Kansas Representatives in Congress was also dominated by the Republican party. Republican incumbents, Roger Marshall and Ron Estes were selected for the First and Fourth House Districts. Republican Steve Watkins — a self-proclaimed “leader, family man, conservative and patriot” who was also endorsed by Trump in Topeka — won his run for the Second House District.

More historically, however, was the election of Democrat Sharice Davids to the Third House District against four-term incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder.

Davids, an MMA fighter and lawyer who also served a white house fellowship under former president Barack Obama, is not only the first Native American woman to be elected to Congress in Kansas, but also the first open member of the LGBTQ community.

“We have the opportunity to reset expectations about what people think when they think of Kansas,” Davids said in her victory speech in Olathe. “We know there are so many of us who welcome everyone, who see everyone and who know that everyone should have the opportunity to succeed.”

The midterms are officially over for Kansas, but the race lives on in states such as Mississippi and Florida, where the midterm votes have gone to a runoff. While no one is quite sure how the results will play out yet, the GOP and the Trump administration are facing historic winds of change as they head into preparation for the 2020 elections.

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