TOPEKA — Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer selected a Salina commercial real estate broker and former congressional candidate Tuesday night to serve as the state's lieutenant governor and create a balanced rural-urban ticket for the 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
Colyer, barely two weeks into his reign as Kansas governor, chose Tracey Mann to be his state government understudy and to be responsible for whipping up votes in rural Kansas ahead of the crowded GOP primary in August.
With the pick, Colyer avoided an alliance with a person closely associated with former Gov. Sam Brownback, who exited Kansas politics as one of the nation’s most unpopular chief executives.
“Tracey has been a leader on economic development and rural issues in Kansas for years,” Colyer said. “I’m really excited to have Tracey join the team.”
Colyer, a Johnson County surgeon, introduced Mann during a brief speech to the Kansas Livestock Association in Topeka. Mann will be sworn into office at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Statehouse.
“He understands rural Kansas,” the governor said of his new political partner. "I wanted somebody who was a strong leader. Someone who listened and was truly in touch with the challenges of our rural community, of our agricultural community."
Mann has never held elective office, but ran in the Republican Party’s primary during 2010 for the 1st District congressional seat. In that race, he grabbed national headlines for saying twice within a span of 30 days that President Barack Obama needed to produce a birth certificate that clearly affirmed his U.S. citizenship. There is irrefutable evidence that Hawaii is Obama's place of birth.
At one point, Mann said “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.”
In response to such persistence, The Hutchinson News withdrew its endorsement of Mann's bid for the congressional seat eventually won by tea-party conservative Tim Huelskamp.
In an interview after Colyer made the announcement, Mann said he made mistakes during that race eight years ago.
“I had a football coach one time who said when you make a mistake you don’t make excuses and you move on. I made some mistakes in that race, but I’ve moved on,” Mann said.
Mann, 41, and father of four children ages four months to six years, said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve in the Colyer administration.
“Governor Colyer’s track record shows he doesn’t shy away from tackling the difficult problems,” Mann said. “I am excited to join him in serving the people of Kansas as we focus on reform, jobs and education.”
Mann, who grew up in Quinter, is managing director of Newmark Grubb Zimmer. It's a commercial real estate company headquartered in Kansas City. Before joining the company, he served as senior program director for the National Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values.
He graduated from Kansas State University in 2000 with a degree in agricultural economics. He also was student body president.