Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, other reps join list of retiring lawmakers

By: - May 24, 2022 11:43 am

More than a dozen Kansas lawmakers have announced they will not be seeking reelection following their terms in the Legislature, including House Speaker Ron Ryckman. (Noah Taborda/Kansas reflector)

TOPEKA — House Speaker Ron Ryckman confirmed Monday he would not seek reelection, along with nearly a dozen other representatives who announced plans to step away from the Legislature.

The decision confirmed speculation the Olathe Republican would not run again. Ryckman was first elected to the House in 2012 and served an unprecedented three terms as speaker.

While Ryckman did not say what would come next, he did tell reporters he wouldn’t be running alongside Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, as his lieutenant governor. In his farewell speech, Ryckman said serving three terms as speaker and the work accomplished during that time were an honor he would cherish.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose, to every work,” Ryckman said. “I know our state will be in good hands. Thank you for the seasons we’ve had together.”

In addition to Ryckman, nine other House members announced they would not be seeking reelection, bringing the total number of departing representatives past a dozen. All 125 seats in the House are up for reelection in the November general election.

House Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch, right, entered the Legislature in 2012 alongside House Speaker Ron Ryckman. Both announced on Monday they would not seek reelection. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Also departing from Republican House leadership is Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch. The Ottawa Republican has served alongside Ryckman since they both entered Legislature in 2012.

“Make every moment here count,” Finch told his House colleagues. “Always be about your work.”

Joining them in retirement is Rep. Jim Gartner, a Topeka Democrat who has served since 2016. Gartner said he enjoyed the first two years in Topeka when cooperation across the aisle seemed a reasonable thing.

But in recent years, Gartner lamented, he did not have as much fun. He has repeatedly taken issue with the bundling of bills, and in his farewell speech, he urged colleagues to do better.

“You have the power to change things,” Gartner said. “All I would urge you is to utilize the power and use it the right way. Let’s get back to the roots of the process that we normally follow.”

Gartner served as a prominent Democratic voice on the House Taxation Committee. He joins Topeka-area Reps. Anne Kuether and Ron Highland, who previously announced their retirement.

Rep. Jim Gartner joins Topeka-area Reps. Annie Kuether and Ron Highland in retirement from the Kansas House. Gartner served in the Legislature since 2016. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, is stepping back from Legislature, where he has served since 1997. He was joined by fellow Kansas City Democrat Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, who has been in office since 2011.

Rep. Lonnie Clark, R-Junction City, Rep. David French, R-Lansing, Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, Rep. Marty Long, R-Ulysses, and Rep. Jim Kelly, R-Independence, all announced their decisions not to seek reelection Monday. Reps. Megan Lynn, R-Olathe, and Rep. Richard Proehl, R-Parsons, announced their retirements from the House earlier this year.

Also retiring from the House, although seeking office elsewhere, are Rep. Jesse Burris, R-Mulvane, and Rep. Stephen Johnson, R-Assaria. Burris is running for a Sedgwick County magistrate judgeship, and Johnson is running for state treasurer.

“I live on a river near Assaria,” Johnson said. “There’s always just a bit of excitement and anticipation about whatever is around that next bend. All the best as each of you continue your journey beyond the next bend.”

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Noah Taborda
Noah Taborda

Noah Taborda started his journalism career in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, covering local government and producing an episode of the podcast Show Me The State while earning his bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Noah then made a short move to Kansas City, Missouri, to work at KCUR as an intern on the talk show Central Standard and then in the newsroom, reporting on daily news and feature stories.