The Republican Party has dominated Kansas politics for a century. Only five Democrats had been elected governor prior to 1956, and each served only one term. In the 20th century the Democrats controlled the state senate only once and the house only for four legislative sessions. However, since 1957 Kansas Democrats have been more successful, especially with the governorship. Democrat George Docking served two, two-year terms (1957-1961) and his son, Robert Docking, served four terms (1967-1975), following John Anderson, Jr., and William Avery, both Republicans. Republican Robert Bennett was elected to the first four-year gubernatorial term in 1974 but was defeated for reelection in 1978 by John Carlin, a Democrat, who served until 1987. The Republican Mike Hayden won in 1986, but he was beaten in 1990 by Democrat Joan Finney, the first woman to be the governor of Kansas. She did not run again and a Republican, Bill Graves, took office in 1995 and was reelected in 1998. In 2002 a Democrat, Kathleen Sebelius, won the governor’s office.
Kansas’s seats in the U.S. Congress have been held mostly by Republicans. Robert Dole represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1968 to 1996, when he resigned his seat to campaign full time for U.S. president. Dole received the Republican Party nomination but lost in the general election to Bill Clinton. Kansas has generally voted for Republican presidential candidates, but the state voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 (although the Republican candidate was the state’s popular and respected governor, Alf Landon) and for Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964.
Kansas has elected women to congressional seats several times and has elected women to the offices of state treasurer, insurance commissioner, lieutenant governor, and governor. Georgia Neese Clark Gray served as the United States treasurer under President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953). The state lost a congressional seat following reapportionment in the 1990s and was reduced to four representatives.
Kansas, which had long prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages, voted to repeal the ban on alcohol sales in 1948, and in 1986 the constitution was amended again to allow liquor sales by the drink. In 1986 the state also approved a state lottery and legalized betting on horse and dog races. Casino gambling on Native American reservations was authorized in 1995, and debates continue on whether to allow gambling in other areas. The Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages became legal in 2004 on a local-option basis, and in 2005 the privilege was extended to grocery and convenience stores selling 3.2 percent beer. Kansas was a pioneer in public health and environmental concerns. In the 1990s county and regional mental health programs were expanded. Concerns about child abuse, battered women, and drug dependency grew in the 1970s, and in 1980 Kansas became the first state to create a fund for child-abuse prevention programs. Conservation efforts have continued since the 1930s but concerns about water increased in the 1980s and 1990s.
The volume of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies much of western Kansas, has decreased because of heavy irrigation. The construction of several reservoirs on major streams since the 1950s alleviated water shortages and provided flood control, but greater demand for water by an increasing urban population means that the state must work harder to protect its most valuable natural resource. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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