The chair of the Kansas Democratic Party will not run for re-election. Lee Kinch announced his decision in a letter to Kansas Democratic state committee members.

He cited the party’s 2017 strategic goals as one reason for his retirement.

“One of the concerns of the young Democrats expressed in our Strategic Plan is the aging leaders and the need for a new face for our party,” Kinch wrote. “I take those concerns seriously. Moreover, others may also desire new leadership. Accordingly, I will not be a candidate of re-election as your State Chair.”

Kansas Democratic leadership is significantly older than the Kansas GOP membership team. Kinch is 77. The Democratic Vice Chair, Kathryn Focke, is 67, and the group’s secretary, Jean Schodorf, is 66.

Kelly Arnold, Kansas Republican Party Chair, is 38. The Kansas GOP Vice Chair, Ashley Hutchinson is 34, and secretary Alana Roethle is 37.

Kansas GOP Leadership team
Kansas Republican Party leadership poses for a photo after the state party convention in 2017. From right to left they are: Ashley Hutchinson, vice chair; Kelly Arnold, chair; TC Anderson, treasurer; and Alana Roethle, secretary.

“While the democrats may claim to be the party of youth, deeds speak louder than words.  It is the Kansas Republicans who elect young, dynamic, energized, hard-chargers as their leaders. Our leaders challenge the status quo to continuously improve the party,” Clay Barker, Kansas GOP Executive Director, said.

Dems to Convene

Chris Reeves, a Democratic party activist, wrote in a diary post at Dailykos.com that Kinch was vital to the party’s recovery following large losses in the 2014 election.

“In the months that followed, chaos, unhappiness, and poor fundraising followed,” Reeves wrote. “When pressed into service, Lee Kinch didn’t just meet expectations, he smashed through them in a way that I think even his firmest backers didn’t anticipate.”

Kansas Dems will elect new leadership during the party’s annual convention this weekend. Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is the keynote speaker for the event.

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