Merrick to remain Kansas House speaker in 2015-16

FILE - Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, right confers with his communications director, Rachel Whitten, left, during the chamber's session, Friday, March 21, 2014, at the Statehouse in Topeka. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – Republicans in the Kansas House have re-elected Speaker Ray Merrick to the chamber’s top leadership position.

And House Democrats turned Monday to veteran state Rep. Tom Burroughs of Kansas City to lead them for the next two years.

The House’s 125 members and members-elect had organizational meetings at the Statehouse to pick leaders for 2015 and 2016.

Merrick easily overcame a challenge within the GOP from Rep. Virgil Peck of Tyro. The vote among Republicans was 80-16.

The GOP will have a 97-28 majority when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

Democrats had to pick a new Minority Leader because Paul Davis of Lawrence gave up his House seat to run unsuccessfully for governor.

Burroughs won the minority leader’s job over Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita in a 17-11 vote.

REPUBLICANS

Speaker: Ray Merrick, Stilwell.

Majority Leader: Jene Vickrey, Louisburg.

Speaker Pro Tem: Peggy Mast, Emporia.

Assistant Majority Leader: Mario Goico, Wichita.

Whip: Ron Ryckman Jr., Olathe.

Caucus Chairman: Travis Couture-Lovelady, Palco.

DEMOCRATS

Minority Leader: Tom Burroughs, Kansas City.

Assistant Minority Leader: Louis Ruiz, Kansas City.

Whip: Ed Trimmer, Winfield.

Agenda Chairman: Brandon Whipple, Wichita.

Caucus Chairwoman: Barbara Ballard, Lawrence.

Policy Chairman: John Wilson, Lawrence.

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