Mann sworn in as 50th Kansas lieutenant governor
Topeka ? Tracey Mann began what may be a difficult job Wednesday of introducing himself to the people of Kansas as the state’s 50th lieutenant governor, even though many political insiders in the Statehouse conceded they had never met him prior to his appointment.
Mann, 41, is a commercial real estate executive from Salina whose only previous bid for public office was an unsuccessful campaign in 2010 for the 1st District congressional seat.
He was chosen by Gov. Jeff Colyer barely two weeks after Colyer, the previous lieutenant governor, was sworn in as governor Jan. 31, succeeding Sam Brownback who stepped down to accept a diplomatic post in the Trump administration.
Colyer said he chose Mann because of his background in economic development and his connections with rural Kansas, topics that he has said he will focus on during his campaign this year for a full four-year term as governor.
In his inaugural speech, though, Mann struck a religious tone, quoting from the preamble to the Kansas Constitution, which says, “We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges … do ordain and establish this constitution of the state of Kansas.”
“You see right there, right from the beginning, an acknowledgment by our founders that our civil and religious privileges come from Almighty God,” he said.
There were a few hitches in the inaugural ceremony, along with some light moments brought on by Mann’s four young children, ranging in age from 4 months to six years, who appeared to revel in all the attention.
There was also a slight delay when, just before Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss was about to administer the oath, Mann realized that someone had forgotten to bring a Bible.
A Bible was quickly found, however, and after taking the oath, Mann talked about being a fifth-generation Kansan who grew up on a family farm established by his great-great grandfather near the town of Quinter, in Gove County.
“My great-great-grandfather ordered that house from Montgomery Ward, and it came on a train as a kit, and he assembled it,” he said.
House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton, is among the few lawmakers who said he knew of Mann before his appointment to be lieutenant governor.
“I helped him on his campaign in 2010,” he said. “I supported him then and I support him now. I think he’s really got his finger on the pulse of Kansas, has a servant heart, and I think he makes a very good team with Gov. Colyer.”
Rep. John Whitmer, R-Wichita, however, said the only things he knew about Mann were things he read about his 2010 campaign for Congress.
“I can’t really give you much,” he said.
Rep. Dan Hawkins, another Wichita Republican who chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee, also said he was unfamiliar with Mann.
“Don’t know him, never met him,” Hawkins said in an interview. “I was totally surprised. I had no idea. The best-kept secret I’ve ever seen.”
In accepting the job, Mann became only the third person in modern times to become lieutenant governor without having been elected to the job. Troy Findley, a former Democratic lawmaker from Lawrence, was appointed to the post in May 2009 after Mark Parkinson ascended to the governor’s office following the resignation of former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Before that, former Gov. Bill Graves named Gary Sherrer to the job in July 1996 after he appointed his previous lieutenant governor, Sheila Frahm, to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat after Bob Dole stepped down to run for president that year.