Today at 3p.m. Kansas will have a new governor.
Governor Sam Brownback’s term officially ends today with his resignation. Brownback is preparing become the nation’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. He was confirmed just one week ago, thanks to not one, but two tie-breaking votes in the U.S. Senate by Vice President Mike Pence.
Brownback is succeeded by Jeff Colyer, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2011. The Johnson County surgeon was in the state House and Senate before resigning his Senate post after Brownback’s election in 2010. Colyer now inherits a state that’s riddled with financial issues, including a years-long fight between the Legislature, public school districts and the Kansas Supreme Court over K-12 funding. Brownback earlier this month said he wanted to put an additional $600 million toward education, so it will be interesting to see how Colyer handles that. Remember, you can see each school district’s current funding here.
Then there is the Medicaid issue (see full KDHE finance reports here ) and the issues with the state’s prison staffing. Also in the last few years, Kansas has been used as an example by politicians of why certain tax breaks and cuts, implemented under Brownback and Colyer, don’t work. Colyer also has to take over a role that hasn’t been terribly popular. Brownback was voted 3rd most-disliked governor this past year (a one-spot improvement from being ranked 2nd most-disliked the year before).
So starting today, and for the next nine months, Colyer essentially gets a tryout, a rehearsal run, as governor, with an eye on earning the job for a full term starting in 2019. He is one of 13 Republicans running in the 2018 gubernatorial race and one of 25 overall candidates looking to win the Nov. 6 election. You can research each candidate’s campaign filings online for free here.
Here’s a complete list of candidates running in 2018 (in alphabetical order):
Joseph Tutera, Jr.