Politics & Government

Colyer picks former congressional candidate as lieutenant governor, running mate

Gov. Jeff Colyer, left, introduces Tracey Mann, right, as his lieutenant governor and running mate on Tuesday night.
Gov. Jeff Colyer, left, introduces Tracey Mann, right, as his lieutenant governor and running mate on Tuesday night. The Wichita Eagle

Gov. Jeff Colyer has named a businessman from outside of Topeka politics as his lieutenant governor and running mate.

Tracey Mann will be sworn in Wednesday.

Mann, who lives in Salina, once ran for Congress in the First District, and he said Tuesday night he will be traveling across Kansas, listening to citizens.

"Government is about leadership. Leadership is about vision and service and heart," Mann said.

Mann is managing director and principal of Newmark Grubb Zimmer, a Kansas City-based commercial real estate company. He was previously director of the National Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values.

Colyer announced the selection at a Kansas Livestock Association dinner. He said he wanted someone who understands the challenges facing rural and agricultural communities.

"I wanted somebody who was a strong leader, who was a go-getter. Somebody who got things done," Colyer said.

The selection comes two weeks into Colyer’s administration.

Mann could help Colyer, who is a Johnson County plastic surgeon, secure the support of the state’s rural areas in the 2018 election for governor. Colyer faces several opponents for the Republican nomination.

Kansas Farm Bureau CEO Terry Holden endorsed the selection. In a statement, he called Mann a "good friend of Kansas agriculture and a great leader."

Mann ran for Congress in 2010 but failed to get the Republican nomination, which went to Tim Huelskamp.

According to The Associated Press, Mann was a subject of controversy during that campaign.

The news service reported that Mann said at a forum that then-President Barack Obama "should show his birth certificate to "resolve it one way or another."

According to the AP, he later said during an appearance with a Salina radio station that "I think the president of the United States needs to come forth with his papers and show everyone that he's an American citizen and put this issue to bed once and for all." A spokesman for him said at the time that he had misspoken.

Asked about that situation by a reporter Tuesday night, he said: "You know, I had a football coach one time that says when you make a mistake, you don't make excuses and you move on. And I made some mistakes in that race, but I've moved on."

Pressed further, he added "I've moved on from that and I can't wait to serve our state as lieutenant governor and really talk about the issues that matter, which are jobs and growing the economy and helping agriculture to do better."

A Democratic senator who attended the Livestock Association dinner expressed skpeticism over Mann.

"I'm concerned, not because of what Mr. Mann has said, but the fact that he has to have been fully vetted by our chief executive officer, Gov. Colyer," said Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City. "And that I'm certain that he would have had to have done his homework."

Mann, who will be Kansas’s 50th lieutenant governor, is originally from Quinter. He holds a degree in agricultural economics from K-State, where he was student body president.

He lives with his wife, Audrey, and their four children.

Gov. Jeff Colyer, standing in the governor's office, talks about where he is headed with the budget and other legislation Wednesday afternoon after being sworn in as the 47th governor of Kansas. (Video by Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle / Jan. 31, 20