Chances are considered good that mostly along party lines, Gov. Sam Brownback will be confirmed as President Donald Trump’s Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, resign his office and Lt. Gov. for seven years Jeff Colyer will ascend to the governorship.
When that will happen, after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved on an 11-10 party-line vote last week forwarding Brownback’s nomination to the full Senate, isn’t known. Could be this week, could be later. Brownback could be part of a long list of appointments bulked together to save time so his former colleagues in the Senate can get an early lunch.
But whenever it is, we know that Brownback will officially resign as governor—and the face of Kansas government will change.
Whenever Brownback is officially off the state payroll—we’re doubting that he will keep the governorship through the end of a pay period—at 11 a.m. some day in the future, Colyer officially will be sworn-in as governor in Hays, his hometown.
That’s always good, because he’s a local boy who honors his home town and the water he grew up drinking. Oh, and it’s also a big official event that will take place in western Kansas, where the now-Johnson County plastic surgeon can get photos snapped during the ceremony. Never hurts to bring the press to Hays, does it?
And, should GOP gubernatorial candidate and Secretary of State Kris Kobach decide to perform the swearing-in, it’s probably better for Colyer to be in the same photo as Kobach somewhere out west, where maybe fewer people statewide will see it.
Then, we know that at 4 p.m., whenever that day comes, there’s going to an inaugural ceremony, probably a speech, and Colyer’s first time to address most of the state and its government in Topeka. It’ll be a not-quite inaugural festival like when a new governor takes office after an election victory, but a good chance for legions of Statehouse regulars to be present—and be seen to be present—and maybe sponsor some related social events.
Look for that to be the chance for Colyer to at least loosely describe what he wants to do with the state that he will run for at least another year, depending on how he does in the GOP gubernatorial primary, and if successful there, maybe the next four years.
Remember, as lieutenant governor, his major job has been to support his boss, the governor, whether it requires biting his tongue or not.
First issue, of course, will be who becomes Colyer’s lieutenant governor. That’s been quiet, but he may choose a short-termer who will get a fairly minimal state paycheck for a year, or it could be his chance to unveil the “Colyer-XXXX” ticket for governor next year. He’d be the first candidate to announce a team…and we’ll see how he characterizes his new hire.
After a lieutenant governor is on board, we’ll see whether Cabinet secretaries keep their jobs or “move on to other opportunities,” which sounds so much better on a resume than being fired.
And we’ll see Colyer’s vision—look at KanCare and its operation—become more prominent as it is presented by state officials.
Move into Cedar Crest, the governor’s mansion? Maybe, if Brownback has collected all his stuff and left it in move-in condition, but it might just be a weekday sleeping convenience for Colyer who commutes to Topeka.
Lots of things are likely to change at 11 a.m. in Hays and 4 p.m. in Topeka some day in the next few weeks. We’re not sure it’ll be earth-shaking enough that you’ll spill your drink, but it could…
Martin Hawver is the publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his website at www.hawvernews.com