On a whirlwind campaign tour Wednesday which included a stop in Great Bend, Kansas gubernatorial candidate Dr. Jeff Colyer announced freshman Rep. Tracy Mann had endorsed Colyer for governor in 2022.
Mann, who last year was elected to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, served as Colyer’s lieutenant governor for his one year in the governor’s office.
A Hays native, Colyer is campaigning for a second stint as Kansas governor. He traveled the western half of Kansas Wednesday, including stops in Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City and Hutchinson in addition to his stop in Great Bend.
With 14 months still remaining until a potential Republican primary, Colyer said he decided to announce his intentions to run for the seat early on because of what he sees as the pivotal nature of the campaign.
“It’s a big race,” Colyer said. “It’s the biggest take-back opportunity for the Republicans in the country for a governor’s race.”
Colyer is making his second run at a full term for the governor’s office. He served a one-year stint as governor from January 2018 to January 2019 following then-Gov. Sam Brownback’s appointment to the position of United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom under former President Donald Trump.
Colyer first ran in for a full term in 2018, but lost a narrow primary race in a crowded Republican field to then-Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who eventually lost to Democrat Laura Kelly.
Prior to his term as governor, Colyer served as Lieutenant Governor under Brownback from 2011 to 2018.
Colyer is looking to unseat Kelly, whose policies and track record he sees as damaging to the state.
“When I was governor, we had more Kansans working than ever before, we had the highest personal income. We had a $900 million surplus and things were starting to move in the State of Kansas,” Colyer said. “She came in and our growth rate was cut in half.”
Colyer was also critical of the Kelly administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the move toward widespread shut downs was particularly damaging to Kansas small businesses. He would also like to see Kansas follow the lead of other states in declining further additional federal unemployment assistance. He sees the additional assistance as harmful to Kansas businesses struggling to find workers.
Colyer said one of his goals as governor would be to push back against federal regulations from the President Joe Biden administration he sees as harmful to Kansans, particularly in the agriculture and oil industries.
“I think Kansas farmers understand their land a whole lot better than a Washington bureaucrat,” Colyer said. “We are much better (as a state) at managing our own affairs (than the federal government).”
Colyer also said Kansans should have the opportunity to decide for themselves as a state how to tackle what he called “issues of concience” such as abortion and transgender sports participation. The federal government, he said, should not dictate how Kansas approaches those matters.
Colyer, who said his family has been in Kansas for five generations, wants to build a Kansas where rural Kansas can thrive for future generations.
He would like to continue building an education system that adequately prepares Kansas students for an increasingly technology-dependent job market, but also creating a strong job market in Kansas that draws those same students to stay in the state.
“If we get our kids educated they can stay here and take advantage of the great quality of life we have,” Colyer said.
To do that, he said, requires increased investment in the infrastructure of rural Kansas, including improving broadband access and investing more in improving the state’ rural roads, railways, and housing market.
“I think this is an opportunity for us,” Colyer said. “There are great entrepreneurs here, there are great young businessmen, they want to see their opportunity.
“We were starting down that road when I was governor, and I want to complete that mission,” he said.