TOPEKA — Rep. Mike O'Neal retained his seat as speaker of the House for a second two-year term Monday, but Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita lost his position as assistant minority leader.
Members of the state House of Representatives convened Monday to elect leaders. It was the first vote for incoming lawmakers elected in November.
O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, ran uncontested and said he was looking forward to the next session, which starts Jan. 10.
"We have all the pieces in place to be very successful in 2011 and 2012," he said.
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In the next session, Republicans will hold a majority in both the House and the Senate as well as hold the governor's office. U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback is the governor-elect.
Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, who had been serving as the speaker pro tem, beat Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, to become the House majority leader.
Siegfreid's former position generated a five-way race that ultimately was won by Rep. Jene Vickrey, R-Louisburg.
The Republicans — who hold a 92 to 33 majority, the largest in more than 50 years — conducted their elections in the House chambers. Democrats held their elections in the old Supreme Court Room down the hall.
Democrats retained Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, as House Democratic leader, but ousted Wichita Democrat Ward from the second-in-command position. Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, will take over as the assistant minority leader.
During the leadership elections, several Republican lawmakers expressed excitement over the upcoming session.
In seconding the nomination for O'Neal, Rep. Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, told the assembled Republicans that they need to demonstrate that they had "heard the clarion call from our constituency."
O'Neal has the leadership to help them do just that, she said.
After the votes, O'Neal admitted that it could be a challenge with so many Republicans to keep everyone happy. And some may become frustrated by the Legislature's pace.
He said he would gladly tackle the challenge of meeting people's high expectations versus what he dealt with during the last two legislative sessions, when a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats worked with Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson to largely thwart the conservative Republican agenda.
The Senate, whose members are elected for four-year terms, will elect a new Republican leader on Dec. 20.
The position, which schedules when bills will (or won't) be debated on the Senate floor, is open because Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, was elected the state's attorney general in November.