Women in State & Federal Government

2001 Kansas Senate:11R - 3D = 14 of 40 (35%)
2001 Kansas House:
23R - 19D = 42 of 124 (34%)

The Center for the American Women and Politics ranked Kansas fifth in the nation in the percentage of women legislators. (1999) (Source: http://www2.southwind.net/~educate/da28.html)

2001 U.S. Senate:10D - 3R= 13 of 100
2001 U.S. House:42D - 18R = 60 of 435 (14%)

 As of January 2001, 31 women nationwide have served as senators.


Rebecca Latimer Felton (Georgia) was the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, appointed after a long career in politics and journalism to fill a vacancy 11/21-23/1922).


Harrie Caraway (Arkansas) was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate after first being appointed to fill her husband’s seat (1932-1945). (Source: http://www.senate.gov/learning/learn_faq.html (Frequently asked Questions and http://www.senate.gov/learning/stat_14.html)


From Kansas

(2 U.S. Senators) (3 U.S. Representatives) (2001: No Kansas women in Congress)

Sheila Frahm, Colby, was appointed to fill Bob Dole’s U.S. Senate seat when he resigned. She served June 1996 to November 1996. Frahm had served six years in the State Senate and was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1994.

Nancy Kassebaum, Wichita, was the first female from any state to be first elected in her own right to a full term in the U.S. Senate (Source: http://www.lasr.net/leisure/kansas/specialty/people), and was the first woman to head a major U.S. Senate committee. At the time of her election, she was the only woman in the Senate (1979‑1997). Kassebaum and Meyers resigned from Congress in 1997 and were replaced by men.

Jan Meyers, Overland Park, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (1985‑1997), chaired the Committee on Small Business during her last term. She served in the Kansas Senate (1972‑1984).

Martha Elizabeth Keys, Hutchinson, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (1975‑1979).

Kathryn O'Laughlin, Hays, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (1932). Single, Catholic, and Democrat in a primarily Republican district, she was the first Kansas woman to serve in Congress. 


Carla Stovall, Topeka, two-term Kansas Attorney General (1995-present).

Kathleen Sebelius, Topeka, the first Democrat elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner (1994-present). Kansas State Representative (1986-1993). Co‑founded the Kansas Public Policy Institute.

Joan Finney, first female governor of Kansas (1990-1995). Rebuffed by Republican leaders for U.S. House seat, she came back later as a Democrat to win election for State Treasurer, then Governor.

Georgia Neese Gray of Richland was the first female Treasurer of the United States (1949).

City Government

Susanna Madora Salter, Argonia, was elected the first woman mayor in the United States (1887) just weeks after women won the right to vote in Kansas. An ardent prohibitionist, she was nominated by townsmen as a joke!

Kansas Women in History

Notable women in history became so because, in their time, they did not fit the societal image of a woman. They were the rebels. Kansas women were at the forefront of : the suffrage movement, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), numerous literary clubs, Women’s Clubs, and Granges. They advocated for personal identity (clothes, property, name, marriage rights), equal pay, voting rights, the right to work in the professions of their choice, for birth control, public education for all children, acceptable living conditions, better health, nutrition, mental care and social opportunities, and against slavery and alcohol.

Modern organizations continuing in the early traditions include: Family & Community Education (FCE); Business & Professional Women (BPW), American Association of University Women (AAUW), League of Women’s Voters, women chambers of commerce, various women’s political party clubs, local Women’s Clubs and church women’s groups of many denominations and faiths. Take a look below at some of the notable women of the past in Kansas politics












Life Influences


McFarland,  Kay









First female Supreme Court Justice in Kansas (1977), Chief Justice (1995), first female elected district judge (1973). Chief Justice of KS Supreme Court (1995-present). Interested in wildlife conservation.


Graduated magna cum laude, & law degree Washburn U., As judge of probate & juvenile courts reduced serious offenses 50%+ in 2 years.


Cline, Nellie








First female lawyer to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court (1918).




Salter, Susanna







Married Children


First woman mayor in the United States. No further political office. Prohibitionist. Nominated by townsmen as a joke!


Daughter of town’s first mayor; father-in-law was former Kansas Lieutenant Governor.


Diggs, Annie LaPorte









Primary organizer of Kansas Library Association (KLA) (1900) and State Librarian. Major Populist leader & suffragette


At the time of her appointment, was the highest ranking female state official in Kansas history.


Lease, Mary Elizabeth










Active and well-known speaker in the Populist political movement. Admitted to Kansas bar 1885.


Bored with domestic life, studied law.


Nation, Carrie





Medicine Lodge




Prohibition. Known for smashing saloons with her hatchets. Active in Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WTCU), at that time the largest women’s organization in the US. Issues: health and hygiene, prison reform, world peace.


Briefly married to an alcoholic, jailed about 30 times in 10 years


Nichols, Clarina





Quindaro (WY Cnty) & Lawrence


Divorced, remarried older news editor.

1 child. Lived in “sparse” conditions. Moved to Kansas from VT.


Equality, child custody, women’s higher education, right to vote in school elections. Seen but not heard officially. Instrumental in gaining suffrage for African American men. Helped slaves escape from MO to KS. Debated ministers on role of women. Saw opportunity in new state of Kansas to shape history and impact her causes. Kept in close touch with eastern colleagues.


Editor, widowed, gathered petitions for her participation at the Wyandotte (state) Constitutional Convention 1859 & was the only woman asked to address the assemblage. Colleague of Anthony, Stone, Brown, & Stanton whom she brought in to the suffragist cause. Public speaker/editorial writer.

How Much Does It Cost in Kansas
to Run for Public office?



Total Number of Eligible Voters in Kansas (11/00)






Total Number of Eligible Voters in Kansas (4/1/01)






Eligible Female Voters in Kansas, Percentage of Total (4/1/01)






Eligible Male Voters in Kansas, Percentage (4/1/01)






Total Number of Voters in Kansas (11/00)






Estimated Number of Female Voters in Kansas* (11/00)





* Percentage of Total. Based on Percentage of Eligible Female Voters in Kansas 4/1/01.


Campaign Costs

Primary factors affecting costs

Who is Running

         Running unopposed

         Running against incumbent

         Open seat with no incumbent


         Dense population (Johnson, Sedgewick, Douglas, Shawnee Counties)

         Sparse population


“Ball-park” Campaign Finance Figures (courtesy of Rob McKnight, professional campaign manager)

Congressional Race - Kansas

A candidate to run against an incumbent in Congressman Districts 1,2,4 would need about $1˝-2 million for the primary. In the general election, the Republican candidate would need about $1 million and a Democrat would need $1˝-2 million.

A Republican candidate in the primary against District 3 incumbent, Democrat Dennis Moore, would need about $1-1˝ million, and another $1˝-2 million for the general election.

State Races

A Republican candidate for Attorney General would need about $500,000 minimum.

A candidate for a new house district would need about $25-35,000 for a moderate campaign.

A candidate for senate would need about $45-60,000.

City Races

Local campaigns vary greatly depending on the office, the size of the community and other variables. Costs can run from almost nothing to $7,500-15,000.


1996 Repub.

Senate Primary


Campaign Costs

JO County

2000 Repub.

Senate Primary

Campaign Costs
JO County


Dick Bond




Barbara Allen




Bruce Demmit




Tim Carmody




















1996:Bond was the incumbent AND Senate Leader.

2000: Bond resigned after his 1996 term leaving his seat open with opponents, but no incumbent.
To fill his vacated seat, expenditures were increased $170,000; total primary votes increased by only 38.