Kansas Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann made a trio of stops to visit with constituents and answer questions in North Central Kansas on Tuesday this week. He visited Sims Fertilizer and Chemical in Osborne late Tuesday morning before making appearances at the Chamber of Commerce offices in Mankato and Smith Center during the afternoon.
Prior to his departure from Osborne, I spent about 15 minutes with the Lt. Governor in one-on-one conversation. I began by asking him to summarize what the past several months have been like? Finding himself in public office for the first time while making that political debut in a position just one step away from the highest office in the state.
Mann, a Salina resident and Western Kansas native of Quinter, was named lieutenant governor by Governor Jeff Colyer who replaced former Governor Sam Brownback earlier this year when the second term governor resigned to accept a federal ambassador position championing international religious freedom. Colyer tapped Mann to replace himself as Lt. Governor as Colyer transitioned to the governorship.
The next topic of conversation with the Lt. Governor was in regard to the collective mindset of himself and Governor Colyer in terms of how they have approached this period of months since former Governor Brownback resigned. Leaving behind most of what would have been the last year of his second and final term as Kansas Governor. While also foregoing what would have been a political lame duck scenario as he finished out the year.
By closing the door on his reign as governor ahead of schedule, Brownback essentially opened two others for Colyer and Mann. The first was the fairly rare opportunity to serve at the top of the state’s executive branch on an interim basis. Once opened, the first door simultaneously created open-door number two which utilizes that initial, fairly rare opportunity to create a second, potentially golden opportunity which is exclusive to Colyer and Mann alone. A trial run in the offices they are looking to be elected into officially for a full, four-year term in the short weeks and months to come.
It essentially equates to a “test drive” for Colyer and Mann with their hands on the wheel which steers the state around, over and through the obstacles in its path. This “test drive” will have lasted for the better part of six months by the time primary votes are cast in August. What the duo has done from behind that theoretical wheel since the “test drive” began in February will undoubtedly play a role, and could possibly be the paramount factor, in determining whether voters choose to hand them the keys for an additional four years after the Brownback Administration’s term they are finishing-out reaches its conclusion.
It is a crowded field of Republican candidates for Kansas Governor, running seven deep this election cycle. The hopefuls are seeking to separate themselves by finding ways to usher votes into their camp. Or finding avenues to keep them away from any and all of the other six directions those votes could potentially go. While six pair of candidates look for coveted opportunities to take advantage of and separate themselves from the field before someone beats them to it, Colyer and Mann have had the advantage of the “test drive” over the field from the moment they were sworn into their current offices.
It is, however, a double-edged sword. It could convince voters that they are the right ones for the job based on tangible a measurable action going back to the Spring. Whereas, the other candidates must rely, largely, on convincing voters they could do the job better through telling the voters so without the opportunity to actually show how they would do the job in advance. It could also be the downfall of the Colyer/Mann ticket if something significant enough went wrong between now and next month’s primary.
The closest of any potential advantage held by any of the other candidates even remotely comparable to the Colyer/Mann “test drive” is the name recognition of gubernatorial candidate and current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. However, for Kobach, the decided advantage he has in terms of name recognition is a double-edged sword in it’s own right. Representing what could be the reason he comes out on top in the primary, or the reason he ultimately falls short. Whether or not the current Secretary of State is promoted by the people into the Governor’s Office could come down to whether having the most recognizable name in the field associates him more so in people’s minds with the well-documented struggles Kansas has experienced over the past several years or with its less notable and more scarcely publicized successes.
So how exactly have Colyer and Mann seen themselves throughout this process leading up to the fall elections. Did they consider and self-identify as being where they are to finish out the Brownback Administration’s term, or are they looking at it from the perspective of a fresh start. To assume the office, make it their own and utilize it as the “test drive”, or even a dress rehearsal if you prefer, for a possible full term leading the state into the next decade.
I asked Mann if he has noticed a contrast or change in the manner that Governor Colyer goes about his duties now as governor compared to when he was in the shoes Mann wears today.
That was Kansas Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann during his stop in Osborne at Sims Fertilizer and Chemical as a part of his three-stop listening tour of North Central Kansas on Tuesday.
The lieutenant governor spent roughly 90 minutes in Osborne and took a tour of the Sims facilities as well as visiting with constituents including some of the 16 employees at the family owned company which does business across 37 states. Myself and a small handful of others from the Osborne Community attended as well.
Tune in on Monday next week, July 9, during the 7 a.m., 8 a.m., Noon and 5 p.m. hours for the remainder of my conversation with Kansas lieutenant governor Tracey Mann. Where you will hear from him on the upcoming elections, tax revenue collections, the current state of agriculture… the driving force behind the lion’s share of the Kansas economy, and the continuing saga of school funding. Right here on your #1 source…