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Jeff Colyer

Jeff Colyer
Jeff Colyer official portrait.jpg
47th Governor of Kansas
Assumed office
January 31, 2018
Lieutenant Tracey Mann
Preceded by Sam Brownback
49th Lieutenant Governor of Kansas
In office
January 10, 2011 – January 31, 2018
Governor Sam Brownback
Preceded by Troy Findley
Succeeded by Tracey Mann
Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 37th district
In office
January 12, 2009 – January 10, 2011
Preceded by Dennis M. Wilson
Succeeded by Raymond Merrick
Member of the Kansas House of Representatives
from the 48th district
In office
January 8, 2007 – January 12, 2009
Preceded by Eric Carter
Succeeded by Marvin Kleeb
Personal details
Born Jeffrey William Colyer
(1960-06-03) June 3, 1960 (age 58)
Hays, Kansas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ruth Gutierrez
Residence Cedar Crest
Education Georgetown University (BS)
Clare Hall, Cambridge (MA)
University of Kansas (MD)

Jeffrey William Colyer (born June 3, 1960) is an American surgeon who has been the 47th and current governor of Kansas since January 31, 2018. 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.

Early life, education, family, and medical career

Colyer was raised in Hays, where his father, James Daniel Colyer (d. 2015),[1] worked as a dentist from 1955 to 1985.[2][3] He graduated from Thomas More Prep High School in 1978[4] 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.[5]

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).[5]

Colyer was a White House Fellow under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, working in international affairs.[6]

In 1994, Colyer opened his own plastic/craniofacial surgery practice in Overland Park, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.[5] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Colyer has been married to his wife, Ruth, since 1991. They have three daughters.[9]

Political career

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 lost the general election to incumbent Democrat Dennis Moore.[3]

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.[6] 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:,[10] Colyer financed $25,000 of his own campaign.

Lieutenant Governor of Kansas

2010 gubernatorial election

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.[11]

2014 gubernatorial election

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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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 thatMontgomery County's sheriff had released non-public investigative files from 1998 with just a records request.[15][16] Brownback and Colyer were reelected, defeating Davis by a 3.69% margin.[17][18][19]


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.[20] 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.[21] CNN reported that "the Kansas ballot measure is one of several examples of the birther movement's still-persistent presence."[22] 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".[23] 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.[24]

As lieutenant governor, Colyer "took the lead in designing KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program".[8]

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".[8]

Governor of Kansas

On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Brownback to be U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C.[25][26][27] Brownback resigned the governorship on January 31, 2018, to be sworn in as ambassador, making Colyer governor.[28] As governor, Colyer has signed into law legislation that allows faith-based adoption groups to refuse gay couples and a $534 million school funding plan.[29][30]

2018 gubernatorial election

Colyer sought a full term as governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election.[31] His Republican primary opponent, Kris Kobach, was endorsed by both President Trump and State Senate President Susan Wagle. Following the August 7 primary, Kobach narrowly led Colyer by a margin of 191 votes.[32] 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.[33][34][35] After several 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.[36][37]

Electoral history

Kansas House of Representatives District 48 Republican Primary Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Colyer 1,455 63.9
Republican Sherrelyn Smith 595 26.1
Republican Jeff Ippel 224 9.8
Kansas House of Representatives District 48 Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Colyer 6,805 61.7
Democratic Pam Ippel 3,975 36.0
Libertarian Lorianne Fisher Koneczny 243 2.2
Kansas State Senate District 37 Republican Primary Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Colyer 5,202 69.4
Republican Steve Baru 2,285 30.5
Kansas State Senate District 37 Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Colyer 27,311 63.4
Democratic Bond Faulwell 13,249 30.7
Libertarian Rob Hodgkinson 2,464 5.7
Governor's election in Kansas, 2010[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
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
Total votes 838,790 100.0
Republican gain from Democratic
Governor's election in Kansas, 2014[39]
Party Candidate Votes %
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
Total votes 869,502 100.00


  1. ^ "Father of Kansas lieutenant governor dies at age 89". The Wichita Eagle. February 1, 2015.
  2. ^ "James Daniel Colyer". Legacy. February 4, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Mike Shields. "Who's Who: Dr. Jeff Colyer". Kansas Health Institute News Service. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  4. ^ Mclean, Jim; Grimmett, Brian (January 31, 2018). "The Gov. Colyer Era, And Campaign To Extend It, Begin In Earnest In Kansas". Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "AesthetiCare Staff". AesthetiCare. Archived from the original on September 5, 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D." Office of the Governor, State of Kansas. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  7. ^ "Post-election, Doctor turned Lieutenant Governor in focus". Lawrence Journal-World. December 24, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Smith, Mitch; Eligon, John (July 27, 2017). "Waiting in the Wings in Kansas: Who Is Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer?". New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  9. ^ "Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D." Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  10. ^ Jeff Colyer 2008 campaign contributions Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  11. ^ Rothschild, Scott (November 8, 2010). "Colyer announces departure from Senate; endorses Merrick". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  12. ^ "Democrat Paul Davis enters Kansas governor race". Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Pianin, Eric (July 16, 2014). "Brownback Feeling Big Political Backlash to Tax Cuts in Kansas". The Fiscal Times. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 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.
  14. ^ Strip-club smear campaign orchestrated by Sam Brownback official, says Paul Davis, Wichita Eagle, Dion Lefler, September 20, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  15. ^ Sam Brownback’s strip-club obsession: GOP governor basing his campaign on a lap dance: Sam Brownback's right-wing agenda hobbled Kansas, so his campaign is now focused on a meaningless 16-year-old story, Simon Maloy, September 26, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  16. ^ In strip-club case, typically closed records were released, GOP tipped off, Lawrence Journal-World, October 4, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  17. ^ "Election 2014 – Kansas Governor – Brownback vs. Davis". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  18. ^ Sam Brownback prevails over Paul Davis for second term as Kansas governor, Wichita Eagle, Byron Lowry & Suzanne Perez Tobias, November 4, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  19. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2014 General Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  20. ^ Kobach: Obama should end speculation, Wichita Eagle, John Hanna (AP), July 24, 2010. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  21. ^ "Kan. board delays decision on Obama, ballot". September 13, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  22. ^ "Obama to appear on Kansas ballot after 'birther' challenge dropped". Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  23. ^ Eligon, John. "Kansas Ballot Challenge Over Obama's Birth Is Ended". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  24. ^ "Kansas Republicans: We need to see Obama's birth certificate". Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  25. ^ Lowry, Byron. Will Trump pick Brownback for religious freedom role?, Kansas City Star, May 19, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  26. ^ Sam Brownback Might Not Be Governing Kansas Much Longer, The Atlantic (AP), Russell Berman, March 10, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  27. ^ Smith, Mitch; Fortin, Jacey (July 26, 2017). "Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas Will Be Nominated as Religious Ambassador". New York Times. New York City. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  28. ^ Brownback sets time and date when he’ll hand off Kansas to Johnson County’s Colyer, Kansas City Star, Brian Lowry, January 25, 2018. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  29. ^ Shorman, Jonathan. "Kansas bill allowing religious adoption groups to refuse LGBT couples will become law". Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  30. ^ "The Latest: Kansas lawmakers pass $534M school funding plan". Fox News. 8 April 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  31. ^ Lowry, Bryan; Woodall, Hunter (August 8, 2017). "Johnson County's Jeff Colyer jumps into race for Kansas governor". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  32. ^ "Unofficial Kansas Election Results". Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  33. ^ Whitcomb, Dan. "Trump-backed candidate for Kansas governor's lead cut to 91 votes". U.S. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  34. ^ Kris Kobach, Trump ally and Kan. secretary of state, recuses himself from vote counting in his own GOP primary vs. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Washington Post, Amy B. Wang and Felicia Sonmez, August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  35. ^ Viviani, Melissa Brunner; Nick. "More discrepancies found in Kobach-Colyer vote totals". Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  36. ^ Lee, Kurtis. "Incumbent Jeff Colyer concedes GOP primary for Kansas governor to Kris Kobach, a staunch Trump ally". Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  37. ^ "Kris Kobach wins Kansas GOP governor nomination after incumbent Colyer concedes". CNN. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  38. ^ "Kansas 2010 General Election November 2, 2010 Unofficial Results". Kansas Secretary of State. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  39. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2014 General Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved December 14, 2014.

External links

Kansas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Eric Carter
Member of the Kansas House of Representatives
from the 48th district

Succeeded by
Marvin Kleeb
Kansas Senate
Preceded by
Dennis M. Wilson
Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 37th district

Succeeded by
Raymond Merrick
Political offices
Preceded by
Troy Findley
Lieutenant Governor of Kansas
Succeeded by
Tracey Mann
Preceded by
Sam Brownback
Governor of Kansas
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Kansas
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Kate Brown
as Governor of Oregon
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Kansas
Succeeded by
Jim Justice
as Governor of West Virginia