Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Hutton on Tuesday endorsed the candidacy of Gov. Jeff Colyer in a primary contest narrowing to a small number of contenders.
Hutton, a prominent Wichita construction company executive and former state legislator, said Colyer had worked since assuming the governorship to appoint “competent managers, ushered in important transparency measures and navigated a difficult school finance ruling.”
“Gov. Colyer has demonstrated he’s the kind of leader we need in these difficult times,” Hutton said.
The announcement was made in Wichita, which is a major industrial driver in the state’s economy and the location of a large block of Republican votes.
Hutton said the primary campaign for governor had been transformed into a two-person race between Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Previously, former GOP gubernatorial candidate Wink Hartman, also a Wichita businessman, endorsed Kobach.
Hutton didn’t make reference to Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, who remains in the hunt for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
“The fact is, if you are a Republican in Kansas, your nominee for governor will either be Jeff Colyer or Kris Kobach,” Hutton said. “Gov. Colyer’s strong leadership has made that an easy choice for me.”
In response to the Hutton announcement, the Kobach campaign issued a statement containing remarks by Hutton in news articles or on Twitter that criticized former Gov. Sam Brownback and his lieutenant governor for seven years, Colyer.
Selzer’s spokeswoman Lindsay Preisinger said Hutton was drawn to another “political insiders who want more of the same in Topeka.” Recent polling shows two out of three likely GOP voters want to change direction from the Brownback-Colyer administration, she said.
Colyer said in a statement that he welcomed Hutton’s support and looked forward to his “advice, counsel and support throughout this campaign.”
In early March, Hutton conceded he was trailing Colyer and Selzer in fundraising and had less name recognition than Colyer and Kobach. Hutton was in the Kansas House for four years, but didn’t run for re-election in 2016.