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|47th Governor of Kansas|
January 31, 2018 – January 14, 2019
|Preceded by||Sam Brownback|
|Succeeded by||Laura Kelly|
|49th Lieutenant Governor of Kansas|
January 10, 2011 – January 31, 2018
|Preceded by||Troy Findley|
|Succeeded by||Tracey Mann|
|Member of the Kansas Senate|
from the 37th district
January 12, 2009 – January 10, 2011
|Preceded by||Dennis Wilson|
|Succeeded by||Raymond Merrick|
|Member of the Kansas House of Representatives|
from the 48th district
January 8, 2007 – January 12, 2009
|Preceded by||Eric Carter|
|Succeeded by||Marvin Kleeb|
Jeffrey William Colyer
June 3, 1960
Hays, Kansas, U.S.
|Education||Georgetown University (BS)|
Clare Hall, Cambridge (MA)
University of Kansas, Kansas City (MD)
Jeffrey William Colyer (born June 3, 1960) is an American surgeon who served as the 47th governor of Kansas from January 31, 2018 to January 14, 2019. A Republican, he served as the 49th lieutenant governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018, as a member of the Kansas Senate from 2009 to 2011, and in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009. Colyer became governor of Kansas when Governor Sam Brownback resigned to take an ambassador position.
Colyer ran for a full term as governor in 2018, but was narrowly defeated in the Republican primary by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who in turn lost the general election to the Democratic nominee, State Senator Laura Kelly.
Colyer was raised in Hays, where his father, James Daniel Colyer (d. 2015), worked as a dentist from 1955 to 1985. He graduated from Thomas More Prep High School in 1978 before enrolling at Georgetown University, where he took pre-med courses and earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1981. After receiving a master's degree in international relations from Clare Hall, Cambridge in 1982, he obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Kansas in 1986.
Colyer had residency training in general surgery at the Washington Hospital Center (1986–88, 1989–91), in plastic surgery at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (1991–93), and in craniofacial/pediatric plastic surgery at the International Craniofacial Institute in Dallas, Texas (1993–94).
In 1994 Colyer opened his own plastic/craniofacial surgery practice in Overland Park, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. He volunteers with the International Medical Corps, providing care in such areas as Kosovo and Sierra Leone; in this capacity, he has performed both trauma and reconstructive surgery as well as training local doctors. Colyer's work as a volunteer surgeon in combat zones has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, and to Rwanda during that country’s genocide.
Colyer has been married to his wife, Ruth, since 1991. They have three daughters.
In the 2002 U.S. House of Representatives elections, Colyer ran for the Republican nomination in Kansas's 3rd congressional district; he was defeated by Adam Taff, who narrowly lost the general election to incumbent Democrat Dennis Moore.
In 2006 Colyer was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives from the 48th district, receiving 62% in a three-way race. As a freshman legislator, he was selected to serve as chairman of the 2007 Legislative Health Reform Task Force. In 2008 he was elected to the Kansas Senate to represent the 37th district, receiving 63% in another three-way race. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Colyer financed $25,000 of his own campaign.
On June 1, 2010, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback announced that Colyer would be his running mate in his bid to become governor of Kansas. Brownback and Colyer were elected on November 2, 2010, and assumed office in January 2011. Colyer resigned his state senate seat on January 10, 2011, prior to taking the oath of office as lieutenant governor.
In October 2013 Kansas state Representative Paul Davis, the Democratic minority leader of the Kansas House of Representatives, announced he would challenge Brownback in the 2014 Kansas gubernatorial election. In July 2014 more than 100 Kansas Republican officials endorsed Davis. These Kansas Republicans said their concern was related to deep cuts in education and other government services as well as tax cuts that had left the state with a large deficit.
In late September 2014 Colyer's chief of staff, Tim Keck, unearthed and publicized a 1998 police report that noted that Davis, 26 and unmarried at the time, had been briefly detained during a raid on a strip club. Davis was found to have no involvement in the cause for the raid and quickly allowed to leave. Responding to criticism of Keck's involvement in the campaign, Brownback spokesman Paul Milburn said that it was legal to use taxpayer-paid staff to campaign. Media law experts were amazed after learning that Montgomery County's sheriff had released non-public investigative files from 1998 with just a records request. Brownback and Colyer were reelected, defeating Davis by a 3.69% margin.
Numerous judges had rejected challenges to the natural-born citizenship of Barack Obama since before he was elected president in 2008, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach persistently demanded proof of citizenship before allowing Obama's name to appear on the 2012 Kansas presidential ballot. In September 2012, Kobach, with the support of both other State Objections Board members, Colyer and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, requested additional evidence that Obama was born in the United States. CNN reported that "the Kansas ballot measure is one of several examples of the birther movement's still-persistent presence." The New York Times noted that the Kansas authorities' actions "reignited long-running conspiracy theories that the president was not born in the United States". According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the three said they did not have sufficient evidence as to whether Obama was eligible to appear on the Kansas ballot as a candidate for the 2012 presidential election. They stated a need to review his birth certificate and other documents from Hawaii, Arizona, and Mississippi before they could respond to a complaint alleging that the president was not a "natural born citizen". "Given the cursory response from President Obama, the Board is merely attempting to obtain additional information before making a decision," said Kobach's spokesperson.
As lieutenant governor Colyer led the Kansas Medicaid transformation, which has saved Kansans $2 billion since 2013 while increasing services. KanCare has led to a 23% reduction in in-patient hospital stays, a 24% increase in members using a primary care physician and a 10% increase in outpatient, non-emergency treatment.
Colyer has always supported pro-life legislation. While he was lieutenant governor, several pro-life bills were signed into law including legislation declaring life begins “at fertilization”, prohibiting tax breaks for abortion providers, and banning abortions performed solely because of a baby’s sex.
Colyer "and others in the Brownback administration were investigated and cleared by a federal grand jury as part of an inquiry into loans made in 2013 and 2014 to [Governor Brownback's] re-election campaign".
On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Brownback to be U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. Brownback resigned the governorship on January 31, 2018, to be sworn in as ambassador, making Colyer governor.
On January 31, 2018, Colyer was sworn in as the 47th governor of Kansas. As his first order of business, he signed an executive order requiring all employees and interns working for executive branch agencies in Kansas to undergo yearly sexual harassment training. It was the first mandatory sexual harassment training policy put in place by a governor.
In May 2018 Colyer made it easier for job seekers to get hired by issuing an executive order, which was met with bipartisan support, to “ban the box”. The executive order prevented Kansas state agencies from asking job seekers about their criminal history during the initial phase of the hiring process.
During his tenure Colyer signed several transparency bills into law. One law helped police body camera video become more accessible after an officer-involved shooting. Another required the Kansas Department for Children and Families to release more information following the death of a child in the state’s custody or after reports of abuse. Colyer also signed bipartisan legislation expanding rules for lobbyists. Under the new law anyone trying to influence an executive branch official on contracts must register as a lobbyist.
Colyer also increased funding to public schools by $500 million over five years. The investment came in response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that schools had not been properly funded for several years. The money was intended to help rural and low-income school districts as well as increase teacher salaries. As governor, Colyer also approved more money for the Kansas National Guard to help National Guard Members with tuition assistance in order to increase the number of National Guard members. Colyer also signed into law the Adoption Protection Act, which gives legal protection to faith-based adoption groups who choose not to offer adoptions to gay couples.
Under Colyer’s leadership the state’s credit rating improved from negative to stable and the unemployment rate declined from 3.9 to 3.3 percent. Three months before Colyer was to leave office, Kansas was on track to pay off the unfunded liability on the state’s pension system, KPERS, by 2033, three years earlier than expected.
Colyer was also instrumental in creating 9,700 new non-agricultural jobs. In June 2018, Colyer and Warren Buffett announced that GEICO would build a new service center in Lenexa, creating 500 jobs. In July 2018, Colyer announced the creation of 1,000 jobs due to the expansion of Shamrock Trading Corporation.
Colyer sought a full term as governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election. During the campaign Colyer was supported by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole, the National Rifle Association, and the Kansas Farm Bureau. One day before the election, his main Republican primary opponent, Kris Kobach, was endorsed by both President Donald Trump and State Senate President Susan Wagle. Following the August 7 primary, Kobach narrowly led Colyer by a margin of 191 votes. By August 9 his lead stood at 121 votes, but discrepancies in some counties needed resolution and provisional and absentee ballots may not have been counted in some counties. After more votes were counted, Colyer conceded to Kobach on August 14, becoming the first incumbent governor to lose a primary election since Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie in 2014 election, who lost the Democratic primary to David Ige.
Kobach lost the general election to the Democratic nominee, State Senator Laura Kelly, by five points.
|Kansas House of Representatives District 48 Republican Primary Election, 2006|
|Kansas House of Representatives District 48 Election, 2006|
|Libertarian||Lorianne Fisher Koneczny||243||2.2|
|Kansas State Senate District 37 Republican Primary Election, 2008|
|Kansas State Senate District 37 Election, 2008|
|Republican||Sam Brownback – Jeff Colyer||530,760||63.28|
|Democratic||Tom Holland – Kelly Kultala||270,166||32.21|
|Libertarian||Andrew Gray – Stacey Davis||22,460||2.68|
|Reform||Ken Cannon – Dan Faubion||15,397||1.84|
|Republican gain from Democratic|
|Republican||Sam Brownback – Jeff Colyer||433,196||49.82|
|Democratic||Paul Davis – Jill Docking||401,100||46.13|
|Libertarian||Keen A. Umbehr – Josh Umbehr||35,206||4.05|
In a startling rebuke to the governor, more than 100 Kansas Republican officials endorsed Davis on Tuesday, a rarity in statewide races and a wakeup call for Brownback, an arch conservative on economic and social issues and a former U.S. senator. The defectors said they are as concerned about cuts in education and other government services as well as the tax cuts that have left the state with a major hole in its budget.
|Kansas House of Representatives|
| Member of the Kansas House of Representatives
from the 48th district
| Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 37th district
| Lieutenant Governor of Kansas
| Governor of Kansas