Former Colyer campaign manager joins Orman campaign

photo by: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

In this file photo from Nov. 1, 2014, Greg Orman talks to supporters during a senate campaign event in Topeka.

TOPEKA – Steve Baccus, a former president of Kansas Farm Bureau who chaired Gov. Jeff Colyer’s re-election campaign, is about to become co-chair of independent candidate Greg Orman’s campaign.

“I made it clear when I joined Governor Colyer’s campaign that I believed Kansas needed a leader who was committed to the state,” Baccus said in a statement released by the Orman campaign. “While my candidate in the primary election did not succeed, I remain committed to ensuring that Kansas has the best leaders possible. It is clear to me that Greg Orman and John Doll are the most qualified leaders to grow the Kansas economy and lead our state.”

Colyer narrowly lost the Aug. 7 Republican primary to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a hardline conservative who has built a national profile for his uncompromising positions on immigration and in favor of broad gun rights.

Concerns have arisen within Republican circles that Kobach’s candidacy could divide GOP voters. But Democrats are likewise concerned that Orman’s campaign could draw away independent and moderate Republican votes that Democratic nominee Sen. Laura Kelly would need to win.

Immediately after conceding the primary Aug. 14, Colyer issued a call for unity and urged all Republicans to support Kobach. In addition, House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton, has reportedly warned other Republicans not to publicly endorse anyone but the Republican candidate.

Colyer issued a statement Monday saying that the Orman campaign’s announcement was the first he had heard about Baccus’ decision.

“While Steve can certainly campaign for whoever he likes, I have made my support for Republican candidate Kris Kobach very clear and encourage all Republicans to rally around our nominee for Governor.”

Kobach issued a statement later in the day saying he wasn’t concerned about Baccus joining the Orman campaign.

“It’s no surprise that Topeka insiders are sticking together. Our campaign to fight special interests, bring good paying jobs to hard-working Kansans, and fix Topeka is not going to be popular with the special-interest crowd, and I’m okay with that,” Kobach said in the statement.

Baccus is a farmer from north-central Kansas who was president of Kansas Farm Bureau from 2002 to 2014.

“I am honored to have Steve join the Orman Doll team,” Orman said in the statement, referring to his running mate, Sen. John Doll, an independent from Garden City. “Steve’s knowledge of the Agricultural sector will be invaluable as we look to grow Kansas and meet the challenges of the future. I am excited to have Steve’s endorsement, and to have him as a trusted advisor.”

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