Overland Park attorney Michael Kuckelman was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Kansas Republican Party over the weekend.
Kuckelman has been an active figure in Johnson County Republican politics for several years. He served as treasurer of the Johnson County Republican Party for eight years and earned the party’s Bart Cohen Award recognizing his dedication to campaigning for Republicans in the county.
In an address to delegates at the state party convention in Topeka over the weekend, Kuckelman said he wanted to focus on unifying the state’s more than 800,000 registered Republicans and on improving grassroots turnout efforts ahead of elections.
Kuckelman served as a delegate for presidential candidate Marco Rubio at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2018.
He is a partner in the firm Kuckelman Torline Kirkland with offices on Nall just north of I-435. In recent years, he has represented Republican candidates in high profile residency challenges before the Kansas State Elections Board. He successfully represented Sen. Pat Roberts in a residency challenge in 2014, and recently represented Olathe Rep. Adam Thomas in a residency challenge. Thomas was arrested and charged with election perjury in September 2018, but was allowed to remain on the ballot and went on to win election.
Kuckelman is also representing Overland Park Sen. Jim Denning, the Senate Majority Leader, in a defamation suit against the Kansas City Star and columnist Steve Rose. In the suit, Denning claims that Rose misrepresented his position on Medicaid expansion, attributing comments to him in a column that Denning says he never made.
The Star removed the column from its website after Denning’s suit was filed. However, on Friday, the attorney representing the Kansas City Star sought to have that case thrown out, saying that it was meritless and that it was intended to hinder criticism of a public official. The Star’s attorney also charged that Kuckelman and Denning had filed the lawsuit in part to raise Kuckelman’s profile as he sought the GOP chairmanship.
Denning and Kuckelman pushed back on those assertions. In comments made Friday, Denning said the “lawsuit isn’t about getting some sort of political revenge.”
“And it’s not a coordinated effort to assure that Michael Kuckelman is the new state party chairman,” Denning said. “That’s absurd. This lawsuit is important, because it points out the sloppy, unethical and reckless article written by Steve Rose and published by The Star. It’s about making them answer for it.”