Kansas state lawmaker: I left GOP over education cuts

A Kansas state lawmaker who left the GOP to become a Democrat said she defected because of the Republican Party’s stance on public education funding.

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“I believe that [switching parties] will help me change things primarily because there is a lot more room in the Democratic Party for those who support public education,” state Rep. Stephanie Clayton said on CNN Monday.

Clayton said House and Senate leaders in Kansas scrapped an education plan that had widespread support, leading her to switch parties, a move two other female state lawmakers followed.

Clayton served in the Kansas legislature for the 19th District since 2013 as a Republican but said she will be a Democrat when the House reconvenes next month.

Clayton said there is a sharper political divide in traditionally red Kansas than most of the country realizes.

“Kansas has always gone back and forth between Republican and Democratic governors,” she said. “If you look, it is not so much a Republican versus Democrat as it is more of a spectrum of individuals who represent these different areas of the parties."

In November, Kansas elected Laura Kelly as the state's first Democratic governor since 2009.

Clayton said the reaction to her switching parties has been largely positive.