OVERLAND PARK – Overland Park plastic surgeon state Sen. Jeff Colyer is Sen. Sam Brownback’s pick for lieutenant governor.
Brownback, the Republican front-runner for governor, made the announcement Tuesday in Overland Park to a crowd of over 100, then the duo embarked on a two-day, statewide tour.
“He is brilliant, he is extremely well qualified, he is talented,” Brownback said describing Colyer.
Colyer, who turns 50 on Thursday, currently represents Overland Park in the Kansas Senate, a post he was elected to in 2008. Prior to that he served in the Kansas House of Representatives.
“Sam gets things done for Kansas and I’m very proud to be his running mate,” Colyer said.
Colyer was joined by his wife, Ruth, and daughters Alexandria, 15, Serena, 12, and Domino, 10. Brownback’s wife Mary was also with them for the announcement.
Brownback said that the campaign would soon be unveiling its “Kansas Roadmap” which he promised would focus on creating jobs, supporting education and strengthening families.
Kansans want more jobs and more business in the state, Colyer said. “We want to grow.”
“You can’t just keep doing the same old thing over and over again,” he said.
Brownback and Colyer will face off against Joan Heffington in the primary. The winner of that race is expected to face Democratic candidate Tom Holland, of Baldwin City, in the November general election.
“I welcome my Senate colleague to the race and look forward to a vigorous debate of the issues,” Holland said in a statement released by his campaign.
He then went on to say that selecting Colyer, “another extreme conservative ” as a running mate “demonstrates that he has no intention of working with, or listening to, moderate Kansans.”
Positioning himself as a moderate may not help Holland, said Mel Kahn, a professor of political science at Wichita State University.
“I think if he was in another state he might profit from being the moderate,” Kahn said.
Kahn said the selection of a running mate seldom, if ever, influences a Kansas gubernatorial election and he doesn’t see the selection of Colyer as having a significant effect on the race one way or the other.
“I think it’s all going to be about Brownback,” said Kahn.
His WSU colleague, political science professor Ken Ciboski, said he agrees that the Colyer selection will probably have a negligible effect on the outcome.
“I don’t think Sam Brownback is going to need anybody like Colyer to win the governorship,” Ciboski said.
In fact, Ciboski is so sure that Brownback has the race in hand, he’s looking ahead to Colyer’s potential role in the administration.
In recent years, lieutenant governors have held dual roles as cabinet secretaries or key advisors to the governor. Current Lt. Gov. Troy Findley serves a dual role as Gov. Mark Parkinson’s chief of staff.
“He (Colyer) has great contact with the legislators,” Ciboski said. “Maybe he could be Brownback’s liaison with the Legislature.”
Brownback and Colyer will end their first day of the tour with a similar announcement at 4:30 p.m. at the Wichita Courtyard by Marriott, Sunflower Room, 2975 N. Webb Road.