Gov. Jeff Colyer, crisscrossing the state in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, is prepared to support, endorse, and campaign for the Republican nominee for governor.
“Of course,” Colyer said when asked Thursday.
Even if the nominee is rival Secretary of State Kris Kobach?
“Of course,” Colyer repeated, quickly adding, “It won’t be. The campaign looks very good.”
Both Colyer and Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann appeared at a noon forum Thursday at QueenBee Marketing in downtown Hutchinson. QueenBee President Angie Bergmeier’s husband Mike Bergmeier, of Shield Agricultural Equipment, was asked to organize a forum devoted to agriculture. About 70 people attended, and the tight schedule for Colyer and Mann allowed them about 30 minutes for Hutchinson.
Colyer grew up in Hays and Mann grew up on a farm near Quinter. Agriculture is more than 50 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, Colyer said, and he and Mann are focusing on how to grow markets and how to add value to agricultural production.
“We want stable markets,” Colyer said, “with no tariffs and no barriers.”
He is supportive of President Donald Trump’s trade initiatives that have sparked tariffs and trade wars. To compensate, Trump announced a $12 billion temporary relief plan that will start sending payments to farmers next month. Colyer agrees with the expenditure.
“That’s not a long-term subsidy,” he said. Farmers were planning on prices that looked like last year’s prices, but a lot of things intervened, Colyer said. “That helps get us through,” he said of the $12 billion, while the Trump Administration negotiates trade agreements.
“We’re talking and working on this constantly,” Colyer said of his Administration’s efforts to expand trade markets.
He’s talked to the White House, Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Kansan Greg Doud, and “a dozen different consul generals” from such countries as Israel, China, Japan, Indonesia, and The Philippines. The latter country, he noted, is the fourth largest wheat market for Kansas.
Colyer is a surgeon but said he studied economics in college. He favors low and simplified taxes, lower property taxes, and reduced regulations.
Unemployment in Kansas is 3.4 percent, he said, and “we’re not going to get a million new people” coming here. Capital investment and improving the skills set of Kansas workers will help grow the value of jobs here, he said.
“We’re focusing on growing the state and we’re going to grow it organically,” Colyer said.
Colyer became governor Jan. 31, after Gov. Sam Brownback resigned to take a job in the U.S. State Department. Colyer picked Salina commercial real estate businessman Tracey Mann as this lieutenant governor. Between the two of them, Colyer and Mann intend to campaign in all 105 counties during a two-week period. The two were in Anthony early Thursday, but they split on the campaign trail as Colyer went to Wichita while Mann made stops in Kingman and Pratt, before they were back together for the Hutchinson stop. Other stops on the itinerary Thursday included Newton, Cottonwood Falls, Abilene, and Hillsboro.
“It’s absolutely fascinating seeing the entire state at the same time,” Colyer said.
At the forum were State Reps. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, and Leo Delperdang, R-Wichita. State Sen. Ed Berger, R-Hutchinson, acted as moderator, introducing Colyer and reading the questions. Berger is supporting Colyer in the primary. Seiwert and Delperdang are not endorsing any candidate in the GOP gubernatorial race.
Besides Colyer and Kobach, other Republicans in Tuesday’s race are former legislator Jim Barnett, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, teens Tyler Ruzich and Joseph Tutera Jr., and pastor Patrick Kucera.