Brownback announces running mate
Topeka U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., on Tuesday filed to run for governor, announced his lieutenant governor running mate, and promised to grow the economy, change the school finance formula and protect families.
He described the Legislature’s recently approved tax increase combined with the struggling economy as “unwise and unsustainable.”
In a speech to about 50 supporters, Brownback promised to unveil soon a political and administrative road map that will focus on the economy, education and families. In brief remarks to reporters, Brownback offered no details.
Brownback’s running mate, state Sen. Jeff Colyer, a conservative Republican from Overland Park, criticized President Barack Obama’s national health care legislation, the state tax increase and said the Kansas budget is still in trouble.
“We just can’t keep doing things the same old way,” said Colyer, who voted against the state budget and 1-cent increase in the state sales tax.
Asked if he would work to repeal the sales tax increase, Brownback said he would look at the mix of taxes to see what would be best to help spur the economy.
He said the school finance formula needs to be changed to provide for more flexibility and innovation, but declined to get into specifics. He promised school funding would remain equitable and that the share of education funding in the state budget would continue as is.
“Education is the primary function of state government and it will continue to be,” he said.
An opponent of the federal health reform, Brownback said he believed changes to the plan will “happen at the ballot box” over the next two election cycles.
Brownback and Colyer were on a two-day, 8-city tour.
So far, Brownback faces opposition in the Aug. 3 Republican Party primary from political newcomer Joan Heffington of Derby, whose running mate is Mark Holick, a pastor.
The Democratic candidate who has gotten the endorsement of party leaders is state Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City. Holland hasn’t announced a running mate but he criticized Brownback's “decision to put another extreme conservative on the ticket.”
Selecting Colyer, Holland said, “demonstrates that (Brownback) has no intention of working with, or listening to, moderate Kansans.
“That's why I hope moderate and independent Kansans will join me and my campaign as we focus on the things that truly matter to our state - creating jobs, protecting our schools and working together to find solutions to the challenges facing Kansas,” Holland said in a statement released by the Kansas Democratic Party.