Buzz shifts on Brownback's running mate

TOPEKA — Kansas Republicans' speculation about Sam Brownback's running mate for the governor's race shifted Friday to a conservative state senator after a former legislator said he's not on the ticket.

Brownback plans to introduce his choice for lieutenant governor at rallies in eight cities Tuesday and Wednesday. The first event is at an Overland Park shopping center, suggesting to many within the GOP that the pick is from vote-rich Johnson County.

Brownback is giving up his U.S. Senate seat to run for governor this year, and he's the leading Republican candidate in the Aug. 3 primary.

Prominent Republicans talked most Friday about state Sen. Jeff Colyer, an Overland Park surgeon who's become a leading conservative spokesman on health care issues, as a potential running mate. Colyer didn't return messages left on his cell phone.

Recently, some of the GOP buzz has been wrong. Republicans had repeatedly mentioned former state Sen. Nick Jordan, of Shawnee, as a leading candidate for lieutenant governor.

But on Friday Jordan said, "I am not the guy."

Jordan served in the Kansas Senate for 13 years before giving up that seat to run unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008.

Colyer ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002, then won a seat in the Kansas House in 2006. Two years later, he won a Senate seat.

Judicial vacancy

Two lower-court judges and an attorney are finalists for a seat on the Kansas Court of Appeals.

A state nominating commission forwarded their names Friday to Gov. Mark Parkinson, who has until July 27 to make the appointment.

On the list were Shawnee County District Judge David Bruns, presiding Municipal Judge Karen Arnold-Burger of Overland Park, and attorney G. Gordon Atcheson, also of Overland Park.

The appointee to the Court of Appeals will replace Judge Jerry Elliott, who died in April.

Praeger files

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger has filed for re-election.

The Lawrence Republican, who filed this week, is seeking her third term as the state's top insurance regulator. She first won the job in 2002, and voters re-elected her in 2006.

She faces an opponent in the Aug. 3 Republican primary. David Powell, an El Dorado insurance company owner, filed in June 2009 and has been active in the tea party movement.

No Democratic candidate has filed.

Barnett files

State Sen. Jim Barnett has filed to run for Kansas' 1st Congressional District seat.

The Emporia Republican submitted the necessary paperwork Friday to guarantee himself a spot on the Aug. 3 primary ballot.

Barnett is the fourth Republican to file. The others are state Sen. Tim Huelskamp of Fowler, Galva attorney and retired Air Force officer Marck Cobb, and Hays educator Sue Boldra.

At least three other Republicans are campaigning.

They are former Salina Mayor Monte Shadwick; Tracey Mann, a commercial real estate seller from Salina; and Rob Wasinger of Hays, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.

The only Democrat in the race is Alan Jilka, another former Salina mayor.

Staff change

Gov. Mark Parkinson has a new communications director.

She is Amy Jordan Wooden, who previously was an associate vice chancellor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. She also was a staffer for the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan.

On Friday, she replaced Seth Bundy. He left Parkinson's staff to become communications director for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland.