With just four days before the primary election, Gov. Sam Brownback is choosing his words very carefully.
At a news conference at the Statehouse, the governor refused to comment on the $500,000 loan his campaign received from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, the bitter Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and the primary races for the Kansas House.
Colyer loaned the governor’s campaign $500,000 on New Year’s Eve, right before a campaign finance filing deadline. Documents posted online by the Kansas Ethics Commission this week show that Colyer was repaid for his loan on Jan. 2. Colyer then loaned that same amount again on July 23, a day before the most recent filing deadline.
Democrats have accused the Brownback campaign of artificially inflating campaign numbers with Colyer’s loan. Brownback was asked to explain the thought process Friday. He declined.
“No. I can’t explain the thought process. I’m not going to talk about that,” he said.
Asked if he had discussed the loan with Colyer, the governor replied more tersely: “No.”
The governor also would not discuss the primary fight between his former Senate colleague, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City, and tea party challenger Milton Wolf.
Wolf confronted Roberts at a campaign stop in Emporia this week and accused him of ducking opportunities to debate.
“I am not going to comment on this right now,” Brownback said. “I’ve endorsed Sen. Roberts. Next question.”
The governor also would not talk about primaries for the Kansas House. A controversial education bill that Brownback signed into law has been a point of contention in Republican races across the state.
The bill increased funding for schools to address inequities cited by the state Supreme Court. But it also ended state-mandated due process protection for public school teachers and contained education reforms.
Moderates who opposed the bill have been targeted by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans For Prosperity through direct mail campaigns that accuse them of being anti-education.
Meanwhile, the Kansas National Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has backed moderate candidates challenging conservative incumbents
The governor declined to weigh in on that matter.
One race that he would comment on was his own. He faces Republican Jennifer Winn of Wichita on Tuesday, and House Minority Leader Paul Davis and Libertarian Keen Umbehr in November should he win the primary.
“I’m asking people to vote for me. We’ve done a lot,” he said, pointing to private sector job growth and greater stability for the state’s pensions systems. “We’ve done a lot and things are working in Kansas. That’s why I’m asking people to vote for me in the primary and general election.”