GOP moves on proposal removing top leaders, women, minorities from key committees


State Republicans are moving to change the makeup of their party leadership with proposals that would remove top elected officials and other affiliated groups representing women, Hispanics, African Americans and young adults from key committees.

The party’s rules committee on Tuesday night agreed on an amendment to the state party’s constitution that would remove the state’s two U.S. senators, three Republican members of Congress and all of the Republican statewide office holders from the GOP state committee.

The proposal also would remove a Republican governor from serving on the state committee as well as the Senate president and the House speaker.

A separate proposal would amend the party’s bylaws to eliminate the same people, including designees of the governor, the U.S. senators and members of Congress, from serving on the party’s executive committee.

The proposed changes would be historic since the general structure of the party and the rules have been in place since 1908, with some changes over the years.

The proposals, while not final, are generating blowback from other Republicans who believe they will alienate key Republican Party players, depress fundraising and further splinter party membership going into the 2024 elections.

“It’s pretty clear that removing these individuals, these elected officials and these associations from the Republican Party would be devastating for the Republican Party itself,” said former GOP chairman Kelly Arnold, a member of the rules committee.

Kelly Arnold

“The Republican Party has one goal and one goal only, and that’s to elect Republicans into office and we do that by inclusion, not exclusion,” Arnold said.

Arnold said the party is made up of a number of groups representing women, African Americans, Hispanics, Blacks and young adults.

“What does that say if the Republican Party says, ‘Thank you, but no thank you, we don’t need you to be associated with us anymore’?” he said.

Some members of the party are criticizing the proposals for cutting out groups such as the Black Republican Council, the Kansas Federation of Republican Women, Kansas Young Republicans and the Kansas Hispanic Republican Council.

“What we’re doing is quieting the voice of our minorities within the party by removing them from the executive committee and the state committee,” said Ben Sauceda, chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Kansas.

“That’s not what we’re about,” Sauceda said.

The proposals must be approved by the party’s state committee, possibly either this summer or at its winter meeting.

Changing the party’s constitution requires a two-thirds vote, which makes it very difficult to pass. The change in the bylaws only requires a majority vote.

Mike Brown

Republican Party Chairman Mike Brown suggested Wednesday that he might not bring the proposal forward for the state committee to consider.

“I have not made the decision yet,” Brown said. “I need to contemplate what they’ve proposed balanced against our bigger priorities and our urgent needs.”

Bryant Anderson, chair of the party’s rules committee, is one of the supporters of the proposals.

He says the elected officials and the affiliated parties have a seat on the both committees without being elected compared to other members who are elected to those committees.

Anderson said the officials who sit on the committees without being elected to the panel effectively dilute the influence of the 37 members elected to the state committee from each of the state’s four congressional districts.

“We have this group of affiliates, and this group of legislators, state elected officials that are on there but they were never elected to be on the state committee,” Anderson said in an interview on Wednesday.

“None of these groups or legislators or state elected officials were actually elected to be on the state committee,” he said. “That’s the central issue.”

In a document distributed to the rules committee, supporters of the changes said it was  “concerning” that the two committees included party members “who do not represent the interests of the citizens of their respective districts.

“This flies in the face of our Representative Republic,” the document states.

“Our U.S. Constitution makes clear that the power is held by individual citizens and those rights are to be protected from the will of the majority,” it says.

“Based on our belief in a Representative Republic and Article II of the Kansas Republican Party Constitution, there is no question the affiliate organizations should not have representation on the executive committee,” supporters say in the document.

“This is not to say any of these affiliates are bad. They may be in perfect alignment with the KS GOP Constitution, bylaws and platform, but that isn’t the point.

“Plain and simple they represent a statewide group, and in some instances, a national group and not the citizens of one of the congressional districts.”

Brown said in an email sent last week to party members that he didn’t write the proposal, although some party members believe he’s behind the effort. Brown appoints members of the rules committee that took up the proposal.

“The unnecessary name-calling and intentional misrepresentation by some…regarding the committee’s discussion of a suggested rule change is not helpful and is being used by some in an attempt to create a wedge to divide Kansas Republicans when we can all agree we should be focused on unity,” Brown wrote in the email.

“This dissension risks a negative impact on fundraising which puts at risks electing Kansas Republicans. This must stop,” he wrote.

In an interview, Brown wouldn’t say whether he supported the proposal.

“I’m not getting involved in any of that,” he said.  “I am not putting my finger on the scale.”

Anderson questioned whether state elected officials would be that concerned about keeping their seats on party committees.

“Many of the legislators and elected officials don’t even come anyway to cast their vote, they send a designee,” he said.

“To say that it’s some huge thing that they’re going to feel slighted or feel hurt, they’re sending designees most of the time anyway.”

“The last thing a legislator wants to do is have more issues to be in the middle of,” he said. “It’s really a good thing that’s going to help them out.”

Michael Austin, chair of the Kansas Black Republican Council, called on Republicans to reject the proposals.

“We are disappointed in the Kansas GOP’s decision to eliminate Black leadership representation,” Austin said.

“We trust that state delegates will reject this action and demonstrate our commitment to strengthening the party,” Austin said.

“We will continue to promote true Republican Kansas values through a spirit of unity.”