Colyer makes campaign stop in Garden City
Former Kansas governor Jeff Colyer visited southwest Kansas Wednesday.
Garden City was one of his stops.
Colyer is running for Kansas governor in 2022 and said he was traveling across the state visiting people on his campaign trail, especially as U.S. Congressman Tracey Mann (R-Kan) and U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan) endorsed him.
Colyer said June 2021 is early to be on the campaign trail, but people want to talk, so he's out.
"This is such an important race to win back the governorship ... and this is a place where Kansans are fundamentally conservative," he said. "Laura Kelly has failed in a lot of different ways and I'm hearing all over the state that Kansans would like to have a conservative, Republican governor."
Colyer grew up in Hays, attending Thomas More Prep-Marian. After high school he attended Georgetown University where he studied economics and was pre-med. He attended the University of Kansas for medical school and received a masters in international relations at Cambridge University in England.
After university, Colyer and worked in the medical field as a plastic surgeon, doing mostly reconstructive surgery such as cranio-facials and skull reconstruction in children.
"Growing up in Hays in western Kansas I believe in service. We're here to help our neighbors, so I very deliberately chose to be a doctor, I do a lot of reconstructive surgery," he said. "I've worked in 40 different war zones across the world, volunteering in places like Syria, Rwanda and helping Kansans as well. To me service is important."
He cut his practice by 90% after he got involved in public policy, but does still work as a doctor.
Colyer said he got into politics because he wanted to make a difference, wanted to change things.
"I'm an unabashed conservative," he said. "I've worked for Ronald Reagan, so you know where I'm coming from. Those are the values that Kansans have and we want to help move forward."
Colyer began his political career with Bob Dole and was a While House fellow to President Ronald Reagan. He was then in the Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate before being elected as Lieutenant Governor in 2010.
He served as the Kansas governor for a year in 2018. He lost in the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial primary.
After, Colyer ran the National Advisory Commission on Rural Health.
He announced his candidacy for governor in the 2022 Kansas gubernatorial race six weeks ago.
It's been a whirlwind ever since, Colyer said.
"We decided to announce a little bit earlier than usual because we wanted to change things us because when I was talking to folks they want to talk after being stuck in their homes for a year, and people have a lot to say," he said. "We're getting out, we're building a bigger, stronger, campaign and we're spending a lot of time with folks across the state. It's actually a lot of fun."
He decided to run for governor because he feels troubled about how Gov. Laura Kelly has run Kansas since she took office in 2018, particularly in the wake of COVID-19 when school and businesses were closed and how vaccinations and unemployment fraud were handled.
"There's a clear difference of where we needed to be," he said. "That's why I decided to run for governor, is we decided that we need to be in a conservative direction and have common sense reforms so we're moving forward as a state."
Colyer said his goal is to make Kansas a place where Kansans see opportunity for themselves and their children do as well.
"It's a great place to have a life, you can afford it, and we're right in the center of the country, so there are a lot of opportunities in logistics and things. This is a place that can be taking off," he said. " As you look around us, Oklahoma's doing better than we are, Nebraska is doing better than we are, South Dakota's doing better, let alone Texas. Kansas has been this blue bastion from Laura Kelly and we're going in the wrong direction and this is our opportunity to shine."