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Johnson County politics are shifting left in a way that may surprise Kansans

Two people sit at a table inside a radio studio. The man on the right is sitting listening to a woman at left who is talking.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Democratic State Rep. Stephanie Clayton, left, and political columnist Steve Rose talk about Johnson County's slow political shift.

Voters registered as Republicans still outnumber Democrats in Johnson County, but by much less than in 2010. Today, more than half of the county's state representatives today are Democrats — metrics that show the power of the local GOP may be softening.

With only a few exceptions, Tuesday's elections in Johnson County trended largely blue. That would have been unbelievable decades ago, says longtime Johnson County resident and political columnist Steve Rose.

The number of registered Democrats in Johnson County has increased by more than 60,000 since 2010.

And while their numbers still trail Republicans by nearly 40,000, the party holds much more power than it did in the past. State Rep. Stephanie Clayton, who represents Overland Park in the Kansas Legislature, said national Republican politics are driving conservatives away.

"I'm one of those people who became a Democrat between 2010 and 2023, so I can certainly relate," Clayton said. "The Republican Party sadly has been showing a lot of people that they are not welcome."

  • Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Kansas state representative, D-Overland Park
  • Steve Rose, longtime Johnson County resident and political columnist
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