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Jeff Colyer
Jeff Colyer official portrait.jpg
47th Governor of Kansas
In office
January 31, 2018 – January 14, 2019
LieutenantTracey Mann
Preceded bySam Brownback
Succeeded byLaura Kelly
49th Lieutenant Governor of Kansas
In office
January 10, 2011 – January 31, 2018
GovernorSam Brownback
Preceded byTroy Findley
Succeeded byTracey Mann
Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 37th district
In office
January 12, 2009 – January 10, 2011
Preceded byDennis Wilson
Succeeded byRaymond Merrick
Member of the Kansas House of Representatives
from the 48th district
In office
January 8, 2007 – January 12, 2009
Preceded byEric Carter
Succeeded byMarvin Kleeb
Personal details
Jeffrey William Colyer

(1960-06-03) June 3, 1960 (age 60)
Hays, Kansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Ruth Gutierrez
EducationGeorgetown University (BS)
Clare Hall, Cambridge (MA)
University of Kansas (MD)

Jeffrey William Colyer (born June 3, 1960) is an American surgeon and politician who served as the 47th governor of Kansas from January 31, 2018 to January 14, 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he was the 49th lieutenant governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018. Colyer served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009 and the Kansas Senate from 2009 to 2011. He assumed the governorship when Sam Brownback resigned to become United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Colyer ran for a full term as governor in 2018, but narrowly lost the Republican primary to Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, who in turn lost the general election to Democratic nominee Laura Kelly.

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 narrowly 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.

While in the state Senate, Colyer co-sponsored an amendment to require Senate consent for Supreme Court appointments[11] and an amendment to create a budget stabilization fund. Colyer received a rating of 75 on conservative issues from the Kansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity. [12]

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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] Brownback and Colyer were reelected, defeating Davis by a 3.69% margin.[18][19][20]


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.[21] 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.[22] CNN reported that "the Kansas ballot measure is one of several examples of the birther movement's still-persistent presence."[23] 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".[24] 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.[25]

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.[26]

Colyer has supported pro-life legislation. While he was lieutenant governor, several pro-life bills were signed into law including legislation declaring life begins “at fertilization”,[27] 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".[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.[28][29][30] Brownback resigned the governorship on January 31, 2018, to be sworn in as ambassador, making Colyer governor.[31]

On January 31, 2018, Colyer was sworn in as the 47th governor of Kansas.[32] 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.[33] 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”.[34] 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[35] become more accessible after an officer-involved shooting. Another required the Kansas Department for Children and Families[36] 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.[37] 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.[38] 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[39] 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.[40]

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.[41][42][43]

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.[44] In July 2018, Colyer announced the creation of 1,000 jobs due to the expansion of Shamrock Trading Corporation.[45]

2018 gubernatorial election

Colyer sought a full term as governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election.[46] 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.[47][48][49] One day before the election, his main Republican primary opponent, Secretary of State 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.[50] 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.[51][52][53] After more votes were counted, Colyer conceded to Kobach on August 14,[54] 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.[55][56]

Kobach lost the general election to the Democratic nominee, State Senator Laura Kelly, by five points.[57][58]


In February 2020, Trump appointed Colyer to chair a federal panel on rural health care.[59]

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[60]
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[61]
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 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. ^ "Jeff Colyer - Ballotpedia". Ballotpedia. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  12. ^ "Jeff Colyer - Ballotpedia". Ballotpedia. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  13. ^ Rothschild, Scott (November 8, 2010). "Colyer announces departure from Senate; endorses Merrick". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  14. ^ "Democrat Paul Davis enters Kansas governor race". Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Strip-club smear campaign orchestrated by Sam Brownback official, says Paul Davis, Wichita Eagle, Dion Lefler, September 20, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  17. ^ In strip-club case, typically closed records were released, GOP tipped off, Lawrence Journal-World, October 4, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  18. ^ "Election 2014 – Kansas Governor – Brownback vs. Davis". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Kansas Secretary of State 2014 General Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  21. ^ Kobach: Obama should end speculation, Wichita Eagle, John Hanna (AP), July 24, 2010. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  22. ^ "Kan. board delays decision on Obama, ballot". September 13, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  23. ^ "Obama to appear on Kansas ballot after 'birther' challenge dropped". Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  24. ^ Eligon, John. "Kansas Ballot Challenge Over Obama's Birth Is Ended". Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  25. ^ "Kansas Republicans: We need to see Obama's birth certificate". Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  26. ^ "Is KanCare a success or disaster? Either way, major changes are likely after election". kansas. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  27. ^ "Sweeping anti-abortion bill goes to Kansas gov". USA TODAY. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  28. ^ Lowry, Byron. Will Trump pick Brownback for religious freedom role?, Kansas City Star, May 19, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  29. ^ Sam Brownback Might Not Be Governing Kansas Much Longer, The Atlantic (AP), Russell Berman, March 10, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ Vermeulen, Jess (February 1, 2018). "'It's a new day in Kansas': Gov. Colyer spends time in hometown Hays before swearing-in". KSNW. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  33. ^ "New Kansas governor to require annual sexual harassment training". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  34. ^ Smith, Sherman. "Governor Jeff Colyer signs order to 'ban the box' on criminal history for state jobs". The Topeka Capital. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  35. ^ Jeff, Colyer (May 10, 2018). "Kansas Governor Signs Bill on Body Cameras, Child Deaths". US News.
  36. ^ "Gov. Colyer signs bill to open state files on child deaths, police shootings". kansascity. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  37. ^ Smith, Sherman. "Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer signs bill expanding lobbying rules to executive, judicial branches". The Topeka Capital. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  38. ^ Ryan, Courtney (April 18, 2018). "Governor Colyer signs school funding bill into law". KSNW. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  39. ^ Press, Associated (April 4, 2018). "Governor Signs Bill to Boost Kansas National Guard Numbers". US News.
  40. ^ Shorman, Jonathan. "Kansas bill allowing religious adoption groups to refuse LGBT couples will become law". Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  41. ^ Chilson, Morgan. "S&P upgrades Kansas rating from negative to stable". The Topeka Capital. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  42. ^ "Unemployment rate continues decline in Saline Co., the region - The Salina Post". The Salina Post. October 22, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  43. ^ "KPERS turns in positive report for 2017". Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  44. ^ "Warren Buffet visits metro to announce new GEICO service center, 500 new jobs in Lenexa". FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports. June 19, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  45. ^ Reporter, Daniel Barnett Digital Producer and Jessica Reyes. "Gov. Colyer announces addition of 1,000 new jobs in Overland Park". KCTV Kansas City. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ Press, Associated (July 30, 2018). "Dole Endorses Colyer in GOP Primary for Kansas Governor". US News.
  48. ^ "NRA endorses Colyer over Kobach, who touts backing of another gun group". kansas. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  49. ^ "Kansas Farm Bureau endorses Colyer/Mann campaign for governor". High Plains Journal. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  50. ^ "Unofficial Kansas Election Results". Archived from the original on August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  51. ^ Whitcomb, Dan. "Trump-backed candidate for Kansas governor's lead cut to 91 votes". U.S. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  52. ^ 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.
  53. ^ Viviani, Melissa Brunner; Nick. "More discrepancies found in Kobach-Colyer vote totals". Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  54. ^ Ryan, Courtney (August 15, 2018). "Colyer concedes Kansas governor race to Kobach". KSNW. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  55. ^ Lee, Kurtis. "Incumbent Jeff Colyer concedes GOP primary for Kansas governor to Kris Kobach, a staunch Trump ally". Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  56. ^ "Kris Kobach wins Kansas GOP governor nomination after incumbent Colyer concedes". CNN. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  57. ^ "Kansas Governor Election Results". The New York Times. January 28, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  58. ^ Strauss, Daniel; Zanona, Melanie. "Former Kansas governor calls for primary challenge to Rep. Steve Watkins". POLITICO. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  59. ^ Lowry, Bryan (February 27, 2020). "Trump names former Kansas Gov. Colyer to lead federal panel on rural health care". The Kansas City Star.
  60. ^ "Kansas 2010 General Election November 2, 2010 Unofficial Results". Kansas Secretary of State. November 2, 2010. Archived from the original on August 3, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  61. ^ "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 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
Succeeded by
Laura Kelly
This page was last edited on 28 August 2020, at 15:53
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